I suspect this has been picked-up by someone else but an article in the US publication ‘Information Week’ from 11th July this year provides further data on the rise of social media (twitter, blogs, Facebook etc) as a tool by which patients are seeking and sharing health information.
It actually looks at a report by a marketing firm, Russell Harder, based in Minneapolis. Sounds as though the firm used some hyper-sophisticated search technology to track various illness related phrases being used on social media and hey bingo. The highest density of social media traffic occurred in cancer with breast cancer well ahead of other cancers. Women used social media more than men.
Russell Harder posits that there is a growing market opportunity for organisations to develop online information designed specifically for those recently diagnosed with a condition, noting that other studies suggest that this is the point that people begin an online journey with their illness as well as a physical one. They would say that wouldn’t they I suppose but the point is a good one.
Indeed, I noticed the following site was launched in New York earlier today to provide cancer patients with a space where they could connect with fellow sufferers. Plus a glance a glance at one of my favourite blogs at the moment ‘croakey’ in Australia revealed an open and interesting account of a social media workshop that took place at the Primary Health Care Research Conference in Brisbane.
It reminded me to look closer to home at what the professions are doing in the UK and thought people might find the recent BMA guidance to doctors on using social media, a helpful resource even if it does come over as a little cautionary and stilted in tone rather than embracing of the newest media. Having to dowmnload a pdf sort of says it all.
Anyway, going back to Information Week, the article says that health professionals cited concerns over ‘confidentiality’ as the reason for their hesitancy in using social media tools. What, theirs or the patient’s? Sorry, that was a bit flippant wasn’t it?
But it does includes a link to a great site – the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media – which is all about embracing social media as well as engineering a good debate about the issues. For instance, you’ll find a well-articulated blog there from a few days ago about the march of social media and the questions it raises for doctors. It is written by Matt Katz MD whose on the External Advisory Board of the aforesaid website.
More specifically on health research another US study by Blue Chip Marketing Worldwide says that a survey of 179 adults found that while 81% were interested in participating in clinical trials only 16% had done so and 30% were aware of clinical trial websites. Go figure as the yanks like to say.
Am going to bed now with an essay question emerging in my head about who is exploiting who in the social media arena as I turn off my light sabre. Good night.