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The Wisdom of Patients: Health Care Meets Online Social Media

What is Health 2.0? A new report from the California Health Care Foundation defines the term as: “The use of social software
and its ability to promote collaboration between patients, their
caregivers, medical professionals, and other stakeholders in health.” While the definition may appear simplistic, the broad range and depth of how social networking applications are and will continue to transform health care cannot be understated.

In the report, author Jane Sarasohn-Kahn of THINK-Health provides a thoughtful overview of how health technology companies are harnessing the power of groups to provide support, drive decision-making, and streamline information sharing. And, as the author aptly points out, “Consumers are well ahead of other health stakeholders in adopting social media in health.” Our experience would support this statement. Compared to our patient advocacy clients, the medical professional community has been slow to embrace these technologies as powerful tools for clinical education and collaboration. Thankfully, we are seeing a real change in this mindset.

Other key points discussed in the article include:

  • The role of group cohesiveness in weeding out inaccurate information, while promoting good information.
  • The creation of “patient opinion leaders.”
  • Concerns about (and the reasonable expectation of) privacy and security.
  • And, the growing proliferation of niche (e.g., disease specific) networks.

The report is a welcomed addition to the growing body of evidence supporting the use of social media in health care.

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