Are You A Patient 2.0?

How would you define the experience of truly engaging in healthcare issues online? For Regina Holliday , that moment was when her husband was diagnosed with kidney cancer. She found ePatient Dave online, and within hours he responded to her with information, referrals and advice on navigating an unresponsive system. Her husband, unfortunately, became sicker and sicker and she created an online network of friends, and friends of friends for sharing all the information. One of these friends, when she tearfully said her husband was now in hospice, told Regina there was an online support group for widows. Laughing and nearly crying even now when she tells the story, she explained to this person that her husband “wasn’t dead yet.”

The answer? “I’m betting they’ll have a place for you, and something helpful. And they did.

This story, told at the Patient 2.0 panel discussion, had some key points to make on the topic of what makes YOU a Patient 2.0 – someone truly engaged in health issues online. Look these over and see if this describes you (and if you agree with them):

1) People first truly engage in online healthcare in intense situations. Specifically, in a) a moment of crisis, b) a period of dramatic life change (mommy-bloggers are the classic example) or c) when confronted by a broken system. Sometimes all three…

2) One of the most profound impacts of online healthcare engagement is the “I am not alone” moment. This moment can occur even with a system that’s working. Maybe you’ve got diabetes, a decent doctor and a good plan. But no one – not your husband, not your best friend, not your mom – no one knows what you’re going through. Until you find them online.

3) Passionate advocacy can pull you online. “Mama bears” are a new online health-community definition. These are women who are tackling intense institutional barriers and going to “extraordinary lengths” to advocate for a loved one. Especially a child. The panel said “and they ARE almost all women.”

If this is the definition of people who get real traction with online health issues, the question becomes: so how do you reach people and engage them before the moment of crisis, or “peak experience”?

What do you think? Is this your experience with online health? Are you a patient 2.0? Share your take in the comments section. Are you a Doc Gurley fan? You can follow Doc Gurley on Facebook. Doc Gurley is the only Harvard Medical School graduate, ever, to be awarded the coveted Shoney’s Ten Step Pin for documented excellence in waitressing, and is a practicing board-certified internist. You can get more health posts at www.docgurley.com, or jump on the Twitter bandwagon and follow Doc Gurley. Also check out Doc Gurley’s joyhabit and iwellth twitter feeds – so you can get topic-specific fun, effective, affordable tips on how to nurture your joy and grow your personal wellth.

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