“The Static Web and its tools remain the most powerful for nonprofits: non-profit’s website is still a central part in the planning and execution of organization’s online communications,” – emphasizes H. Mansfield in her book Social Media for Social Good.
New development in social media and health experience signifies that digital innovations, emergence of social media platforms and mobile communication technologies are becoming an integral part of the “static” web. In recent years, static web is undergoing restructuring from “unidirectional into multidirectional communication” due to this shift in the online environment. (1).
The new web is focusing on engagement of people and these digital web extensions are important networking tools for public health professionals looking for ways to increase penetration of public health messages, bridging with public and establishing a dialog.
Health Information and the Internet
- 87% of all US adults use the Internet
- 80% of internet users look for health and medical information online
- Most popular 2015 web-sites:
- WebMD – 80 million (estimated monthly visitors)
- National Institute of Health – 55 million
- Yahoo!Health – 50,5 million
- MayoClinic – 30 million
- MedicineNet – 25.5 million
- This is 4x more visitors than in 2012!
We can conclude that public interest in getting information about health and health conditions is substantial and it is growing. Most striking finding of the national survey by Pew Research Center is the report how people’s networks are expanding to include online peers. When people need information about health issue, care or support, majority of them would turn to a health professional, and about 23% say they have gone online to find others with similar health concerns, as Pew Research Center reported in their Peer-to-peer Health Care study. When the issue involved more personal issues of how to cope with a health issue or get quick relief, then non-professionals were preferred by most patients. (2)
People use Internet to find same-minded communities and become centered around an issue that is important to them. Your doctor, your family, your friends and caregivers can provide you with the best support, comfort and advice. But nobody can understand your experience better then a person who experienced the same disability or chronic health issue.
A woman living with a blood disorder wrote in the online survey about her support group:
“We can say things to each other we can’t say to others. We joke about doctors and death. We cry when we need to. Together we are better informed. The support is powerful and empowering.”
That is why more and more health organizations are offering peer-to-peer mentoring programs on web:
Internet bridges people with similar health conditions, increases their access to healthcare professionals, allows people to help others and find help for themselves. Studies have shown that the more help someone receives, the more likely they will help someone else. (3)
While health professionals remain “the static”, traditional source of health information and help for most Americans, “peer-to-peer web healthcare” is becoming an important dimension of public health, social networking and emotional well-being for people living with chronic health condition.
- Web 2.0 for Health Promotion: Reviewing the Current Evidence. American Journal of Public Health. January 2013, Vol 103, No1.
- Pew Research Center. Peer-to-peer HealthCare. http://www.pewinternet.org/2011/02/28/peer-to-peer-health-care-2/
- “Building a Research Agenda for Participatory Medicine,” by Susannah Fox (e-patients.net: October 11, 2010). Available at: http://e-patients.net/archives/2010/10/building-a-research-agenda-for-participatory-medicine.html
- Trend Data (Adults). Washington, DC: Pew Internet and American Life Project, January 2014. http://www.pewinternet.org/data-trend/internet-use/internet-use-over-time/
- Fox S. Health Topics. Washington, DC: Pew Internet & American Life Project. http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/HealthTopics.aspx
- eBizMBA. Top 15 Most Popular Health Websites, Aug 2015 http://www.ebizmba.com/articles/health-websites