I attended a session on Blogging by patients which has me thinking. One of the points that was brought home was that patients with chronic illnesses are blogging about their experiences with having certain health conditions, and that blogging has a powerful effect on how they self-manage their illnesses. To me, this is VERY powerful.
In another session, a focus was on how many patients are searching for online information about an illness. I have said this many times, and will say it again here. The medical community has a duty and an obligation to dispel mis-information which is unfortunately so prevalent on the internet, and to provide simple, truthful, meaningful messages that patients can understand. What better way to do this than through the use of social media.
One way to know about whether patients are looking online, or posting online through a blog, is to take on online history, or OH. We should ask patients whether they do this, just like we should take a social history when we first meet them. This can help us learn about how patients deal with their illness, and how we might be able to best help them.
This is my "A-HA" moment about the OH. If you are a health care provider, you should consider the importance of the OH: it will be your A-HA moment too, and it will better help you get to know your patient. Isn't that what the Patient-Doctor Communication is all about, after all?