Birds of a feather flock together — and they find ways to find each other.
The rise of health care initiatives online has brought a convergence of people seeking advice, fellowship and outreach in the most likely of places: social media. What’s taking them there are not just desktops and laptops, but iPads, iPods, iPhones, Droids, and any other mobile device they can get their hands on.
Take, for instance, the convergence of those suffering from diseases: PatientsLikeMe.com is a Facebook of sorts for those searching for answers to interact with each other; CureTogether.com is a site that has been featured in several publications from The New York Times to The Wall Street Journal. Even WebMD, one of the top ten most trusted health care brands online, has recently introduced a social networking element to its website called the WebMD® Health Community.
But it’s not just the destination that drives social media in health care. The journey has become much of the focus, as organizations scramble to develop and release health care tools for mobile devices. With health care being one of the fastest growing segments in places like Apple’s App Store and Android’s Market, it is no surprise that a search for “health care” returns pages and pages of results from many of the industry’s leading companies.
Traditionally, the industry has been slow to embrace social media because it presents many challenges, but cultural convergence has forced health care’s hand. Pew Internet Research reports that 61% of adults search online for health care information. Around 81% of Internet- users utilize it to seek medical advice and information; this number will only grow as baby boomers continue to develop their digital lifestyles.
As our population ages and brings digitally connected participants, our digital culture will force an even higher degree of convergence through journey and destination. So get ready—this flock is ready to fly.