Dr Google – new rhythm of communication in the healthcare sector
Blog - Nov 12, 2019
How did our grandparents take care of their health? What an MD said, from one control to another – that was pretty much all. Plus, when they came across an MD at a saint’s day celebration – they would not leave them alone that easily. Little literature research, reading, self-education.
How do we take care of our health? When was the last time you didn’t get some info on a health issue online, check your symptoms, potential solutions and treatments and what an MD said after a daily round? Back in 1995 or 1996?
As in all areas of our life, the digital era has changed dynamics of communication in relation to health as well. Looking for medical advice and information is the third most popular online activity (after sex and gambling).
As much as 80 percent of the Internet users search the web for medical information, namely use services of the most popular MD in the world: Dr Google.
Is all the information the same?
Everyone can communicate today. However, communicating about health is not the same as designing an ad for trainers or being engaged in a public debate about whether your iPhone is more awesome than your little sister’s Samsung. Such information is more sensitive by its inherent nature, be it a personal opinion, public campaign or simple advertising of healthcare services and products.
Although the pharmaceutical and hospital industry and academy, for instance, are quite cautious about the type of information they communicate in public, (do’s and don’ts which we all in the industry know very well), there’s still a myriad of sources of information that are uncontrollable. Often very practical and useful at first glance, the information from “non-credible” sources such as blogs, personal websites, non-accredited associations, etc., may pose a serious health risk.
In the digital era, everyone has become much more responsible for their health than before and therefore it is important whom we trust. A golden rule is still that we trust the sources related to relevant medical or academic centres more.
SoMe are excellent platforms primarily for communication among patients and exchange of experience.
Today, there is a plethora of patient groups, especially on FB. Some are independent, others are actually handled by various industries, but they have one thing in common – due to sensibility of information, very often users do not go too deep in their comments. Because it’s not a problem to brag about your phone, but fewer people will start a discussion on how they cope with haemorrhoids. Even though they’re anonymous.
Regardless of the fact that users engage less in sensitive topics (fewer comments) and that discussions very often turn into sharing frustrations, the significance of this channel of communication in the healthcare sector has been growing steadily and represents a “must have” in any serious communication planning.
Big data – a horrifying term or reality?
In addition to the fact that big data has become one of the most used “10-dollar words”, the fastest and the most voluminous information flow in the history has been setting new game rules and benchmarks on a daily basis.
Big data in a sense of sharing our daily health parameters, such are measuring blood pressure 24/7 using a watch, have an enormous potential for further advancement of medicine. But big data are also millions of unrelated e-medical records, hyper-production of apps monitoring trivia such as nail pain, wearables collecting information which, in most cases, is still not used on the global level.
Channels communicating the information about health of all of us are becoming increasingly complex. Digital communications have established outstanding conditions for improving health and quality of life, but we’re still not using their full potential.
A lot of information remains “lost in translation”, so it’s up to us to choose whom, how much and when we trust. And for whatever isn’t clear, we will ask our MDs made of flesh and blood. While they still exist.