Here at Ideas For Good we believe that the convergence of new media technologies is altering the way in which users consume and process information. Today’s media consumers are relentlessly connected, presenting strong implications for how consumers of health information access, process, and retain health related knowledge.
New media’s role in ‘Health 2.0’ leverages exponentially growing technologies to personalize healthcare. Through increasing Internet connectivity, consumers are empowered to make more informed and sophisticated choices in relation to their health. This participatory model of the doctor-patient relationship, or the ‘patient–helper’, combined with new media technologies, enables the physician to provide a faster, cheaper, and more effective process of treatment than previously possible.
This is evident in mobile app technology such as the iBGStar, a simple, ingenious device that attaches to an iPhone allowing patients to check their blood sugar levels. The free diabetes manager app also makes it possible to track and analyse medical data in real time, with the ability to send emergency alerts to the owner’s physician, enabling a quicker, and more personalized response to any issues.
This technology is not limited to diabetes, with a range of mobile apps utilizing the connected health model to assist in monitoring blood pressure, heart rhythm disorders, weight, and even sexually transmitted diseases, although I’m not too comfortable with urinating on my phone just yet!
Combining these new media technologies with the virtualization of medical records allows doctors to effectively crowd source data in a way that was not previously possible. By aggregating patient data, doctors could compare a myriad of information across large amounts of patients such as treatments, dosage effectiveness, side effects, and symptoms all compiled over a time scale relatable to each patient.
Although a public health management system that allows these kind of capabilities may not be available for some time, sites such as Patients Like Me are already available. By facilitating in the tracking of patients health within the community, patients build a profile and can compare their health with other sufferers of the same disease. This goes well beyond the traditional use of a medical record moving the focus toward a proactive approach to health.
This participatory approach toward health does however have its’ drawbacks. one of those being an “epidemic of misinformation” whereby recipients of online health information are prone to outbreaks of ‘cyberchondria’ or becoming victims of ‘cyberquakery’ through unregulated information such as advertising being positioned as advice. The resounding response from medical authorities is overwhelmingly negative, however, their greatest concern is seen to be with the quality of the information being provided. With the correct use of new media technology, these ideas for good will provide a faster, cheaper, and more personalized strategy towards health.