How social health networks will change medicine in 2012

I am a passionate advocate of the power of social networks to connect, inform and empower patients, and equally its ability to enable communication, collaboration and information collection by medical professionals. In a report published last year by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, Paul Keckley, executive director, advised that “industry stakeholders who do not consider how to incorporate social networks into their future strategies risk being run over on the super-highway of health information sharing.”  He goes on to observe that:

Social networks hold considerable potential value for health care organizations because they can be used to reach stakeholders, aggregate information and leverage collaboration.

The statistics quoted in this report are interesting to note. About one-third of Americans who go online to research their health currently use social networks to find fellow patients and discuss their conditions, and 36 percent of social network users evaluate and leverage other consumers’ knowledge before making health care decisions.

In a  TechCrunch interview this week with the executive director of FutureMed, Daniel Kraft  discusses the biggest emerging trends in HealthTech. Alongside information on how A.I, big data, 3D printing, and other new technologies will help you get better medical care, Kraft highlighted the power of social health networks  to change  health behavior. Social networks are also quite powerful for tracking and predicting disease. James Fowler, co-author of the book Connected is now working with Facebook to look at health data.

We’re in the Facebook era, and are more open to sharing information in the healthcare spectrum. Individuals will share their whole history through services including PatientsLikeMe and CureTogether where patients with similar problems from migraines to Lou Geghrig’s disease will consolidate health information. This will enable improvements in clinical trials.

It’s a growing area and one that I am excited to be a part of. It will be fascinating to see how it will expand and develop in the coming year. I would love to hear your thoughts, opinions and personal experiences of using social networking for health. Please share your views in the comments below.

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