Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Interesting Statistic: Online Social Networking and the Health Care Industry

"Among 21 year olds, 61% of web content created by someone they know."

Interesting stat courtesy of Denise Howell's attendance at Always On 2006. Interesting because I find myself more and more attracted to websites, blogs and other online content created by individuals I know or have met. This stat supports discussions with my nieces and nephews (all 20 somethings) who have grown up with and are more comfortable with online social networking including, text messaging, facebook, MySpace, Flickr, YouTube, etc. Interestingly, my 83 year old dad, a retired physician and resident historian of New Martinsville where I grew up, has become a regular on classmates.com sharing old high school stories and family information. This trend will only continue as they move into the workplace and beyond.

I'm interested in watching thie impact that online social networking will have on the delivery of health care in the United States. This is made all the more interesting by the aging baby boomers who are quickly moving into the largest users of health care (aka pig in python concept). For example:
  • More doctors and patients blogging
  • Online direct communication between patient and provider
  • Network aggregation of treatment information
  • Online support and communities of patients with specific diseases and the providers who treat them
  • Podcasting health information and medical advice
  • Videocasting health education or training for health care professionals
Scoble is on the same track with his recent comment that it's humans who optimize the web. He comments:

When I search on “Office Furniture” why is the first thing I see stores? I don’t wanna see freaking corporate info. I wanna know what HUMANS like to use in their offices. . . None of the big search companies have figured out that it’s the humans who “optimize” the Web. . . I’ll be looking for who lets me get to the other humans the fastest.
The younger generation and others who get it are trending in this direction and the web companies who answer will be the leaders. For another example of the shift in the younger (actually youngest) generation of web users take my 5 year old who yesterday wanted to order a costume for Halloween. Can't be too early for Halloween. He's been driving us crazy this week with an obsession for a particular costume. My wife and I finally collapsed and she asked him whether or not he wanted to call in the order or do it over the web. His response with a slight look of why are you even asking that was, "the internet . . . I want to see the costume." Then he said, "we can just Google it." His selection of web visual content vs. static telepphone audio struck me as interesting. This is the same 5 year old who who earlier this year we watch pull a Peter Pan video down and type in the words P-E-T-E-R-P-A-N from the cover into Google. He knew what he wanted even though he couldn't yet spell it out.

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