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Rescooped by Amanda Barrell from Social Media and Healthcare
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The danger to online health seekers

The danger to online health seekers | NHS | Scoop.it

POST SUMMARY: According to the Pew Internet Project, 72 percent of US internet users look up health-related information online. But an astonishing number of the pages we visit to learn about private health concerns—confidentially, we assume—are tracking our queries, sending the sensitive data to third party corporations, even shipping the information directly to the same brokers who monitor our credit scores. It’s happening for profit, for an “improved user experience,” and because developers have flocked to “free” plugins and tools provided by data-vacuuming companies.

In April 2014, Tim Libert, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, custom-built software calledwebXray to analyze the top 50 search results for nearly 2,000 common diseases (over 80,000 pages total). He found the results startling: a full 91 percent of the pages made what are known as third-party requests to outside companies. That means when you search for “cold sores,” for instance, and click the highly ranked “Cold Sores Topic Overview WebMD” link, the website is passing your request for information about the disease along to one or more (and often many, many more) other corporations.

 

According to Libert’s research, which is published in the Communications of the ACM, about 70 percent of the time, the data transmitted “contained information exposing specific conditions, treatments, and diseases.” That, he says, is “potentially putting user privacy at risk.” And it means you’ll probably want to think twice before looking up medical information on the internet.

 

This puts users are risk for two significant reasons: first, people’s health interests may be publicly identified along with their names. This could happen because criminals get a hold of the information, it is accidentally leaked, or data brokers collect and sell the information. Second, many online marketers use algorithmic tools which automatically cluster people into groups with names like “target” and “waste.” Predictably, those in the “target” category are extended favorable discounts at retailers and advance notice of sales. Given that 62 percent of bankruptcies are the result of medical expenses, it is possible anyone visiting medical websites may be grouped into the “waste” category and denied favorable offers.

 

Personal health information — historically protected by the Hippocratic Oath — has suddenly become the property of private corporations who may sell it to the highest bidder or accidentally misuse it to discriminate against the ill,” Libert said. “As health information seeking has moved online, the privacy of a doctor’s office has been traded in for the silent intrusion of behavioral tracking.”

Online privacy has for some time been a concern. Studies conducted by Annenberg dating back to 1999 indicate wariness among Americans about how their personal information may be used. And slightly more than one in every three Americans even knows that private third-parties can track their visits to health-related websites.

 


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Dr Martin Wale's curator insight, March 19, 2015 1:07 AM

Interesting and troubling account of the perils of searching for health information on line. It's probably safe to assume that information about what you're searching for, or even contact information is being collected for sale or marketing.

Rescooped by Amanda Barrell from Social Media and Healthcare
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How Patients and Providers use Social Media

How Patients and Providers use Social Media | NHS | Scoop.it
Infographic: Health care and social media, how patients and providers are using social networks.

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Amanda Barrell's insight:

Healthcare providers can't ignore social media! Interesting graphic based on US data, but UK must be similar? 

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Paulo Duarte's curator insight, July 30, 2014 3:59 PM

Patients and social media

Rescooped by Amanda Barrell from Social Media and Healthcare
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Five Reasons for Providers to Embrace Social Media

Five Reasons for Providers to Embrace Social Media | NHS | Scoop.it

Physicians today often find themselves asking, "Who has time for social media?" Since most providers are focused on the chaos of reimbursements, busy practices and healthcare reform, it's no wonder that social media time is not a high priority.

But if you’ve been paying attention to society, business, and commerce over the last few years, you would know that social media has developed a very effective purpose in helping professionals communicate, engage in professional development and build meaningful reputations in their fields.

Social media is also a very effective way for physicians to manage their online reputations, which has become more and more important in today’s competitive healthcare marketplace.

Many physicians will argue that engaging in social media could be beneficial, but also brings about a certain amount of risk. Dr. John Mandrola negates this argument in hisMedCity News article titled, Doctors and Social Media: It’s Time To Embrace Change. 

Dr. Mandrola writes, “But I ask: What medical intervention, what shot at making things better, comes free of risk? A rule of doctoring is that to do good a doctor must risk doing harm. A distinguished heart surgeon once consoled me—after I had caused a procedural complication—that if I didn’t want complications, I shouldn’t do anything.”

Dr. Mandrola sees the “risk” argument as a confining attitude that many physicians often take – keeping them trapped in the same outdated rituals that have perpetuated the healthcare industry for years.

“In the hyper-connected world of 2014, medical professionals have reached a fork in the road. One path is a road well traveled. On this familiar route, we continue to keep our heads down, stay in the weeds, out of trouble. Don’t wiggle; don’t rock the boat; check the boxes; fill out the forms and accept what comes. Don’t dare engage in the online conversation. Choosing this path is like not treating a disease: less ownership confers less personal risk.”

Dr. Russel Faust provides five great reasons in his Whitepaper, Social Media Guide for Docs, 12 Tips For Beginners.  

You will gain market share– yes, it will help grow your practice!You will be recognized as an authority in your area of practice (which will also growyour practice).You will be better connected with your patients: compliance with your diagnostic and treatment regimens will improve (healthier patients, reduced readmissions).Your patients will arrive to appointments better- educated, and take less time: it will streamline your work flow!Your patients will be less needy outside of your clinic: they will require less time on the phone with you and your nurses.

 


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