Health 2.0 101
The popularity of user-generated content has increased on social media sites, and this effect has spilled over to the health industry. Millions of people are now going online to give their contribution to a wide range of health care topics ranging from extraction of wisdom teeth to the avian-flu pandemic or using acupuncture to deal with infertility. This is what is known as Health 2.0 or user-generated health care.
To some degree, that is not new as there have already been online support groups which have existed since the early 1990s. However, the content has evolved, and we now have videos, blogs, and numerous contributors. According to one research firm, more than 20% of Americans have contributed some information on health-related content. The hype that surrounded web 2.0 has raised the consciousness of new possibilities thus there continues to be an increase in new content and new users.
The increase in user-generated content is in part due to the wider internet trends and the fact that people have more access to the tools for coming up with content. Tools like the digital camera and webcams have made it easy for people to take photos and upload. However, there are other factors that have led to this increase. Individuals with multiple chronic diseases like depression, diabetes are interested in getting some good tips from other people who have similar conditions. Nowadays, any field of medical knowledge is too wide for any single doctor to know all of it. Some patients who may not get all the information from their doctor prefer to go online, joining a forum with other people with similar conditions for more information.
There are lots of discussions on health- related issues online and it is unusual as health is a sensitive issue that people don’t just discuss with anyone. Individuals usually are not conscious of how irreversible info is online; as they say, the internet never forgets. There is certainly the risk of malicious individuals misusing one’s private data. Some sites try to mitigate this risk by requiring the use of pseudonyms. Another concern with this user-generated content is misinformation. Too much health information can confuse some people. User-generated content is advantageous, and it has helped people a lot, but one needs to use the advice along with consulting with their physician.
Most of the user-generated content is accurate because if one person shares erroneous information, other people may correct it. Some people have used user-generated content as their best source of hope. If one is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer; they can get support from other folks across the planet who may recommend physicians and can offer exact information about the therapy.