Expanding the Market for and Use of Social Media

The past five years has seen a huge growth in healthcare interest and knowledge seeking behavior at the consumer level. This has been driven in part by the vitriolic discussion and debate over the Affordable Care Act (i.e. Obamacare), online, and digital availability of healthcare information, social media, and a very active healthcare professionals using online as ways to communicate and improve care.

I want to  look at two issues. As more consumers and healthcare professionals step into a more active role in their healthcare through social media, online, communities, etc. are we expanding this audience? And are we seeing improvement in outcomes?

A recent article titled “Mind Blowing Digital Health Statistics and Trends” the data they are sharing is quite frankly mind blowing. Here are some statistics:

  • According to recent study, the number of adults in the US (ages 18+) using mobile phones for health information grew from 61 million to 75 million this year, while tablet adoption nearly doubled from 15 million to 29 million.
  • 64% of healthcare extenders believe that technology has impacted the quality of interaction with patients
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  • 80% of Internet Users look online for health information
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  • 32. 20% search for health related content on mobile devices
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  • 33. 23% use social media to follow health experiences of friends
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  • 34. Health related Google searches are up 47% from last year
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  • 35. 81% of consumers click on a sponsored link when looking for health information
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  • 88% of physicians would like patients to be able to track or monitor their health at home
  • 1 in 5 internet users have gone on line to find someone who shares their health concerns and 1 in 4 with chronic conditions

    We can add to these trends the proliferation of branded Web site such as Pfizer’s Hemophilia Village. Which are creating patient centric communities of practice. Places where patients sharing similar illnesses or needs for knowledge can share and learn from like-minded seekers of information.

    I would characterize these trends as decentralized with many small segments identifying with specific issues and problem solving. If you follow me or have seen my Tweets you know I advocate that adults learn when they are seeking solutions to problems they are having. This can include family members as well.

    Are we seeing?

    • Greater illness associated with aging Americans: Need to solve problems
    • Easier access to healthcare knowledge and information: Easier to solve problems
    • Greater interest in improving our collective healthcare ‘footprint’ starting at a younger non ill state of health: Wanting to avoid problems

    I would present that it is a combination of all three but, the most important consideration is are we seeing a change in behavior and outcomes? Are we turning a corner on self-management of healthcare? Are we driving down the cost curve? Do we have a more knowledgeable public? How can we expand this segment to do two tasks, add more consumers to self-driven learners and help those seeking knowledge to dive deeper and change behavior?

    Our next task should be to wrap SM around smart outcome driven strategies while measuring outcomes to see which strategies work the best with which goals.

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