“Health isn’t just another category of information,” wrote Mary Ann Belliveau, Twitter’s lead for Health & Wellness in a CNN blog. Mary Ann, one of the guest speakers at the upcoming ePharma conference in New York City went on to write “it’s different, and for the same reasons online as it is off: it is extremely sensitive, persona, and the stakes in its applications couldn’t be higher.”
Mary Ann’s perspective reflects the trend that has brought forth the colloquialism “Dr. Google”, the ever-available resource for second opinions.
In a recent focus group session I attended, a young Hispanic woman recounted her ER visit with her asthmatic son. Desperate to understand two treatment options the attending physician was offering, she grabbed her smartphone to search each treatment choice, opting for the explanations available on Wikipedia and www.mayoclinic.com to make a decision critical to her son’s survival.
Ms. Belliveau cites a study Google commissioned from research firm OTX, which found that 75% of those responding research their conditions (or self-diagnosed conditions) online prior to consulting a physician, and 70% searched the web afterwards to learn more.
There’s no competing with the immediacy of all forms of “medical” opinion online, which unfortunately is often relied upon by the searcher out of the context of a formal diagnosis. It is incumbent upon those building mHealth solutions to understand the impact of this now-automatic behavior by patients and their caregivers.
Are you incorporating the “Dr. Google” consultation as one the competitive factors for your mHealth platform? And have you consulted Dr. Google, or one of the resources you follow on Twitter, for a second opinion on a diagnosis? Make sure to attend Mary Ann’s presentation at the ePharma conference, and if you see me walking around, I’d love to quote you in my live blog at the event.
By Beatriz Mallory, VP, SensisHealth