Guest Blog 1: Health and the Web
May 2, 2011
Healthcare professionals increasingly rely on the Internet to support their professional life. It is now normal for HCPs to turn to websites to find information for their patients. They will also use websites in their own professional capacity, to look up information, support their own decision making, network with their colleagues, or to aid their professional development.
However, even HCPs suffer from too much choice and may not always know where to go to get the best answer.
Doctors are a good example: competition for their attention is high and they will be courted, targeted, and tempted to use any number of online services. Often they may be incentivised or paid to take part in online activities, as a lot of organisations want to influence a change in their behaviour or to know what they think.
Most HCPs will look for a trusted brand when deciding which sources of information to use, just as the average Internet shopper would sooner buy from Amazon than from someone they’ve never heard of.
But a doctor’s idea of a trusted source of information may not be the same as their patients’.
For us patients, the volume of health information on the Web is enormous, and searching for an answer to a health-related question can return, well, mixed results. We may find it hard to judge the quality of the information we find.
For a lot of worried patients, any mention online of a condition linked to their symptoms can be enough to give them cause for concern and generate a potentially unnecessary visit to a GP.
Social networks play an increasingly important role. They may not be the trusted sources of health information that a doctor will look for but for patients, they can provide an important source of support. Online groups will share their experiences and in doing so will also refer each other to sources of information they found useful - maybe even your website.
On the negative side, someone on Facebook may say something about you or your brand that isn’t true, and the chances are high that someone is going to believe them. But that’s not Facebook’s fault, that person has that opinion for a reason and you need to know why. That is the nature of the Web – it’s social, and it’s only going to get more so.
I’ll cover the subject of the Social Web and the challenges it brings in more depth in my next post.
About the Author
Jon is considered to be one of Europe's leading digital editors in healthcare. He is the former editor of Doctors.net.uk, where he was responsible for content and the digital marketing strategy of the largest online network of doctors in Europe. Prior to this, Jon was editor of the Chief Medical Officer’s website at the Department of Health.blog comments powered by Disqus