How to get more for less? It’s an age-old question and one that is playing out today in our healthcare system. With healthcare reform top of mind these days, everyone is asking how the medical industry can treat patients better for less money. Social media often comes up in these discussions and everyone seems to have an opinion about the risks and rewards.
For all of the debate, one thing is for sure: social media in healthcare is here to stay. But when it comes to the availability of trustworthy health information, research suggests that we still have a ways to go. According to a recent Pew Internet survey, four out of five Internet users have searched for health information online, making health one of the most searched topics on the Internet. At the same time, the study also revealed that more than 50 percent say the information they find is “of no help at all.” After all, anyone with Internet access can set up a health blog or answer health questions on Google or Yahoo Answers, no credentials required.
As the CEO and founder of Avvo.com, an online legal and health Q&A forum and professional directory, I talk to hospital administrators, doctors and consumers about these issues on a regular basis. When it comes to providing information about health issues and healthcare providers online, I see a massive opportunity for improvement. Ultimately, I think it comes down to two primary actions on the part of the medical community and those providing health-focused social media platforms.