Sunday, September 16, 2012

The "A-HA Moment" about the OH ; Blogging

I am currently enjoying my time at the Med2.0 conference in Boston.  This great group of folks  is coming together to learn and disseminate how to leverage the power of emerging technologies to help improve patient care.  It is simply eye-opening to learn and understand some things coming down the pike which will help health care professionals care for patients in the future.

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?


  1. Good to read about your aha moment. I have just had an abstract accepted for publication on this topic - and it is one I feel passionatley about. The statistics of increased length of survival for women diagnosed with breast cancer give no indication of the quality of life experienced. In describing the psychosocial adjustment to life after treatment, younger women convey a unique sense of loneliness, termed survivor loneliness. Many are turning to blogs to find a sense of connection and a means of self construct. Blog narratives are useful analytical tools for understanding the lived experience of cancer survivorship. Marie Ennis OConnor (@JBBC)

  2. Thank you for your thoughtful post, Alex. So honored that our Medicine 2.0 panel helped to ignite your a-ha moment on the OH.
    Pam Ressler (@pamressler)

  3. Thanks to both Marie and Pam for your comments. This is an important aspect that needs to be considered when health care providers communicate with patients. Alex

  4. Tangential to your post, one of the best places (as a health information professional) to send patients is MedlinePlus , a reliable source of consumer health information. The info is tightly vetted, so you can feel confident about giving patients information from here (no ads, etc.). Not exactly tied in with OH,but hopefully useful nonetheless.