Tuesday, September 30, 2008

NY Times Health: Articles On Changing World of Online Health Information

The New York Times Health section in the article, "Logging On for a Second (or Third) Opinion," examines the changing world of online health information search.

As the article points out we are moving from a "search and read" web to a "search, share and interact" web. As Dr. Ted Eytan indicates, we are seeing the "democratization of health care." Patients as consumers are becoming more engaged and knowledgeable through the use of online search and collaboration before and after they visit with a health care professional. Likewise, physicians and other providers are utilizing technology and the evolving social networked web in the same fashion. I agree with the comments of Clay Shirky who indicates patients (aka health consumers) are becoming empowered actors in the health system. The article gives a good overview with links to some of the health care business models evolving in this sector.

Matthew Holt, co-founder of the Health 2.0 Conference, ends the article by stating "the marketplace in information can correct itself over time." He indicates that "the more people you have in the conversation, the better information drives out the worse information." I think there are risks with a socially networked and driven health system but I hope the rewards of improved information, treatment, outcomes and reduced costs outweigh such risks. Time will tell.

A companion article, "You're Sick. Now What? Knowledge is Power," also examines the rise of the empowered health consumer and offers some sage advice on how much information is good, how much is bad and some best practices on using web based health information. The article hits on these key points:
  • The goal is to find an M.D., to become one.
  • Keep statistics in perspective.
  • Don't limit yourself to the web.
  • Tell your doctor about your research.
Much of what is discussed in these two articles will the topic de jour at the Health 2.0 Conference next month in San Francisco. I look forward to attending and participating in the ongoing conversation about how technology is changing the health care industry.

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