Where Do You Turn When You Have a Health Question – Your Doctor or the Web?
If you’re not comfortable sharing a sensitive health question with your doctor, you’re not alone. Two out of three Americans go to the Web to get answers on private health topics such as sex, STDs, weight issues and substance abuse, according to researchers.
In a recent study performed by Pearl.com, a subscription portal website that connects users to doctors, lawyers and other professionals for advice, 63 percent of the 1,000 people surveyed said they’re more likely to find answers to private health-related questions online rather than in-person at their doctor’s office.
Interesting, though: the reasons users gave for going to the web rather than their doctors weren’t just that their questions were personal or embarrassing. Some said they weren’t going to their doctors because they were afraid those types of questions wouldn’t be covered by insurance (18%) or would incur an expensive co-pay (19%). Thirteen percent also thought that going to a doctor to get their question answered would lead to the discovery of a pre-existing condition.
Pearl isn’t the only website to answer medical questions. Healthtap.com is a free network that anyone can go on, ask a medical question and get an answer within minutes from a real doctor. But it is a public forum, so your questions aren’t private and anyone, possibly someone you know, can see them.
How strong is the web presence of your hospital or healthcare facility? That’s where people are going to get answers. If you’re able to build a comfortable relationship with someone online, it can lead to a real doctor-patient relationship with them outside of cyberspace.
A social media and online marketing specialist, Michael is the social media director for Wax Custom Communications, an award-winning full-service marketing and advertising firm with a big focus on healthcare.
At Wax, Michael manages all aspects of internal social media as well as strategy and implementation for Wax clients.
Michael has a high passion for Web 2.0 and is the social media co-chair ...