The Health Issue – March 23, 2012
To Your Health!
How does 21st century technology impact your health? Aside from breathtakingly complex machinery like MRI’s and spectrometers, has the information revolution really changed the practice of medicine? While medical, political, and administrative leaders in healthcare debate how this works, most of us are already turning to the web for answers for everything from headaches to chronic care. But we should be wary of predictions that care will soon be automated. First and foremost because doctors are not really engaged in any two-way conversations outside the exam room.
Healthy Debate or Stony Silence
From a professional standpoint, I want to know how you think about the choices you have and how you reach the decisions you do. But marketers like me are far from all-knowing, and even farther from having the ability to react to what they do know. As I’ve noted above, in the healthcare world we often either don’t know how best to reach out, or are prohibited from doing so using social media channels. From a practical standpoint this means that consumers have a platform for asking questions and raising complaints, but at best they are engaging the broader community first, while those they most want to hear from are either silent or silenced.
According to Merriam Webster, a yelp is a “sharp shrill bark or cry.” Yet Wikipedia says that yelp.dot.com is “a social networking, user review, and local search web site.” So does “yelping” mean shrilly barking, or does it mean reaching out to friends and sharing stories? I’ve read that most website reviews are overwhelmingly positive, and I can see why. Who wants to get sued for going public with a bad customer service story? In the end, I like what New Yorkers have to say in this piece from Business Insider.
While dealing with a plantar fasciitis problem, I’ve seen five health specialists over the past three months. Inevitably, each of them gave me some patient education materials, while also mentioning that they assumed I’d “google” the problem as well. Naturally I had, and never really thought twice about it. But what if the diagnosis had been for something more serious, like heart disease or chronic depression. Google, after all, is a publicly traded information company, focused on profits rather than your personal needs. If you google a debilitating health concern, does that create a record of your health that may one day become inadvertently public?