What do raisins, 100% cherry juice, pedometers and Neti pots have in common? They were all products mentioned by Dr. Mehmet Oz on “The Doctor Oz Show” and promoted by the show for health benefits.
As the co-executive Producer of “The Doctor Oz Show” stated, “After the Neti pot was mentioned on the show, its sales rose by 12,000%. Internet searches for how to use the Neti pot irrigation system alone rose by 42,000 hits the day after the show aired.” The “Oz Effect” is a form of one-way information flow that has created a devoted fan base and has influenced interest in health and health related products more from word of mouth than the broadcast messages themselves. According to Scott Radford in, “Linking Innovation to Design: Consumer Responses to Visual Product Newness” direct word of mouth from those in line to adopt a behavior is more influential than broadcast messages themselves to influence behavior and promote change.
The “Oz Effect” has undeniable influence on devoted fans that watch the show with pen and paper in hand poised to pounce on the next health craze. The question is how sustainable is this type of campaign at changing long term health behavior? How can other health organizations that have no television exposure utilize multiple media channels to captivate, persuade and sustain an audience in pursuit of “optimum health”?
Participatory, two-way web-based health sites have the potential to captivate, persuade and sustain an audience in pursuit of “optimum health” PatientsLikeMe is a web-based health site that is a patient-powered research network that aims to improve lives in real-time research platform. On PatientsLikeMe’s network, people connect with others who have the same disease or condition and track and share their own experiences. In the process, they generate data about the real-world nature of disease that can help researchers, pharmaceutical companies, regulators, providers and nonprofits develop more effective products, services and care.
PatientsLikeMe describes itself “a for-profit company with a ‘not just for profit’ attitude,” PatientsLikeMe summarizes it’s core values to include:
1) Honor the trust patients place in us – Patients trust the company to protect their private health data and to use it to advance knowledge of their disease.
2) Transparency – The company aims for “no surprises.” In an effort to ensure transparency, PatientsLikeMe discloses its business partnerships, what it does with patient data and how the company makes money. PatientsLikeMe does not allow advertising on its site.
3) Openness – The company believes that sharing health information openly has the potential to benefit patients.
4) Create “Wow” – This is the goal for what patients should feel when they visit PatientsLikeMe.com. Every sixth week, the engineering team holds a “Wow Week” to experiment and innovate freely in developing new site features, similar to Google’s “20% time”.
Using this innovative model and web based strategy, PatientsLikeMe was named as one of the “15 Companies that Will Change the World” by Business 2.0 and CNN Money as well as #23 on Fast Company (magazine)’s 2010 list of Most Innovative Companies.
As an accepted “researcher” on the site, I have found PatientsLikeMe a valuable resource to find out information about health issues, what patients have tried and what has and has not worked for them.
Diffusion of Innovations, Wikipedia article
https://www.patientslikeme.com accessed August 16, 2015.
Radford, Scott K. (2011). “Linking Innovation to Design: Consumer Responses to Visual Product Newness”. Journal of Product Innovation Management 28 (s1): 208–220.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (2010). Health literacy Online: A guide to writing and designing easy-to-use health Web sites. Washington, DC.