“Better Health Through Social Media”

The mainstream media and even the Feds have caught on: blogs and podcasts and social networking websites are not only changing the communications landscape, but they might have an impact on people’s HEALTH as well.  See the recent Wall St. Journal story by my buddy Laura Landro (OK, “buddy” might be an overstatement, but she did contact me while researching this one :)

All of us in the OC blogging community already feel the power of the “social networking revolution” –Laptop_girls the ability to share advice and support, recommend treatments, and link to/discuss the latest D-news in a public forum.  Not to mention the virtual hugs.

But The Revolution is much, much bigger than our cozy little sphere.  Consider:

* The recent launch of Revolution Health, AOL co-founder Steve Case’s new health portal and social network. (How useful is it really? TBD)

* Health Central Network, run by an all-star media management team, featuring rich info and reader-sharing sites on everything from acid reflux to skin cancer.  (Just about to launch a complete re-design for an improved search & sharing experience; keep your eyes peeled)

* DailyStrength.org, which claims to be “the largest, most comprehensive health network of people sharing their advice, treatment experiences, and support.”  Users can keep a “wellness journal,” read other members’ stories, and chat with new friends.

* Dmitriy Kruglak’s new Trusted.MD site (formerly The Medical Blog Network), which aims to “transform from merely a community of bloggers to a social network for all healthcare stakeholders: consumers, professionals and organizations.”

* SERMO – an online community for physicians to share best practices in patient treatments and outcomes (Tagline: “Know More, Know Earlier”)

* The Wellness Community, RelayforLife.org, and of course, our own dLife.com

* A new Pricewaterhouse Coopers analyst report on “improving healthcare quality,” which includes a whole section on Blogs and Social Media (DiabetesMine.com is showcased on pages 51 & 52, as an example of a “patient thought leader blog.”  Cool!)

According to the Wall St. Journal story, 80% of American adults online now use the Internet to search for health-related information, up from 72% last year.  The total number of adults who’ve ever searched for health information online rose 16% to 136 million. Wow!  So what do most people do with all that cyber-health-info once they get it?  Inquiring minds want to know…

SURVEY OF THE DAY (which would be in a nice grid format if I were cleverer and had more time on my hands): *** Would you say that online social networking has actually helped you improve your health?  If so, exactly how? ***(The best example I can think of is Allison’s OC NewMe Challenge — using the Net to kick some diabetic butt into shape :)



12 Responses

  1. Michelle
    Michelle February 13, 2007 at 7:52 am | | Reply

    to answer the survey – yes I think that social networking has allowed me to significantly improve the health and wellbeing of my 6 year old son with type 1 D. I talk daily to other parents who are dealing with the exact same issues surrounding raising a child with diabetes and the information that flows, the tried and true tricks of the trade are amazing. I’ve learned just about everything I know from other parents. This isn’t info that could ever be covered in hundreds of hours of in hospital training. There’s just no way. So in turn I’ve tried new techniques with dosing, counting carbs and learned about new insulins, new pumps, things our endo doesn’t even know about yet. It has greatly improved his health.

    As an added bonus, the support from other parents has greatly improved my emotional wellbeing.

    Social sites – especially sites where users can directly talk to each other in message board format (yuku, ezboard,and the like) are the real implementation of the global world that we all talked about 15 years ago. I might not have any other children in my son’s school with D but I have hundreds of other parents I can talk to all around the country.

  2. Kassie
    Kassie February 13, 2007 at 9:13 am | | Reply

    I’d say it’ hasn’t. *But* that’s because I had a strong diabetes/social network before the explosion of this here internets.

    Because my husband and I both worked at diabetes camps, and made great friends and connections there, I’ve had the benefit of diabetes peers for 18 of my 20 years with diabetes. My anonymousish internet pals are icing on the cake ;)

  3. Chrissie in Belgium
    Chrissie in Belgium February 13, 2007 at 12:28 pm | | Reply

    Yes, I have definitely been helped by advice from fellow bloggers. Emotionally the burden is easier to bear and several times other’s ideas have gotten me to try different things – for example just recently new sites for my insulin pump infusion lines.

  4. Maureen
    Maureen February 13, 2007 at 3:28 pm | | Reply

    Oh Yeah…We were so alone when our son was diagnosed, totally at a loss for information. I finally decided that the best thing that we could do for him was to be as informed as possible. All of those sleepless nights were spent online getting an T1 education and in the process making some great friends that were in the same boat(or should we say sled right now?!). I value every bit of info, input and advice people have offered.

  5. Rachel
    Rachel February 13, 2007 at 6:34 pm | | Reply

    I want to do well, stay healthy, prove that diet & exercise alone CAN work for type 2 diabetes. I’m not sure I’d feel that way without the OC. If I hadn’t gained confidence in myself through all these friendships – confidence in my writing, confidence in weight loss, confidence in fitness – I don’t think I could say that I feel the healthiest I have EVER been (despite the type 2 label).

  6. Rachel
    Rachel February 13, 2007 at 6:37 pm | | Reply

    (And being able to better understand my husband and what he goes through has helped tremendously, by the way.)

  7. Jonah
    Jonah February 13, 2007 at 8:13 pm | | Reply

    I’m not sure.
    I’ve been online and learned a lot about diabetes, but I’m not sure that I’ve ever implemented the knowledge in a helpful way.
    I’ve ordered some diabetes related freebies that have been helpful- the ADA wizdom kit included a set of balls to juggle that frequently lower my blood sugar. I’ve enjoyed sample test strips and two free meters.

  8. Mark's Daily Apple
    Mark's Daily Apple February 14, 2007 at 2:45 pm | | Reply

    Viva La Revolución!

    The popularity of blogging and social-networking has reached an all time high and people are beginning to realize that these tools can be applied to personal healthcare. It seems like every day another site pops up that is designed to bring people toge…

  9. AmyT
    AmyT February 14, 2007 at 3:14 pm | | Reply

    Yes, Mark’s post is remarkably similar to mine — posted the day after. Since I have been corresponding with him, I daresay he’s done a little lifting here.

  10. Aaron
    Aaron February 14, 2007 at 4:29 pm | | Reply

    Oh so sorry. Amongst the many other articles that discuss health-related social-networking and these sites specifically we found your blog post to be particularly insightful. I meant to attribute. It was an honest mistake that has been amended. Keep up the great work!

  11. Scott K. Johnson
    Scott K. Johnson February 18, 2007 at 2:24 pm | | Reply

    Yes – the OC has been, by far, the most helpful thing that I have come across in the last few years.

    Even the simple idea of not feeling so damn isolated all the time is a great help in itself.

    Along with that I have taken suggestions and ideas from fellow bloggers that have helped me in my daily care. For example, swapping my morning bagel for an english muffin (that has much less carbs). A little thing, but it is helping.

    It is also very nice to have such a resource available as a sounding board. Maybe I’m dealing with something where I simply need a little validation. Or, if I have a problem I’m struggling with, I can post about it and gain valuable insights through the comments. Often from perspectives and viewpoints that I had not considered before.

    The idea that companies and medical organizations may start to take notice is very exciting to me. We have an opportunity to influence things we may see in the coming years!

    Thanks Amy!

  12. nomentanus
    nomentanus February 22, 2007 at 4:20 pm | | Reply

    Social networking has helped, some… but pubmed.com has helped more. It’s a tremendous resource, if you use answers.com free medical dictionary at the same time. Doctors don’t have the time to go datamining there very much, but you may.

    I’ve added to the social networking scene by putting the results of my research up at photoperiodeffect.com, and I hope that will help others as much.

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