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Medical Treatments Management Magazine

Why Looking to Friends for Medical Advice in Social Media is a growing trend.

Major societal benefits from social media will be made in the health care arena. 2008 survey results from an online advertising agency "iCrossing" showed that 34 percent of Americans turn to social media for health research. While substantial, you can be certain these numbers are even higher today. Twenty percent of the online health searchers went to Wikipedia for information. Other social networks were also used and the average age of people using social media for health-related questions was 37, whereas the average overall age for patients searching for health information was 44. It is not surprising that it is younger, but it does again show that social media users aren't all teenagers; it will be mainstream sooner than people expect.

social networkWhen health consumers turn to social media for medical advice they are in a decision-mode process. Needs range from finding out costs for certain operations or medical devices to the reputation of a certain provider or doctor. When engaged in face-to-face or phone conversation, it can be awkward or even rude to discuss medical conditions. Social media eliminates this awkwardness. A simple post like: "Has anyone ever traveled for medical procedures? I have to have my knee replaced" can give responses from people that have had similar situations and ideas that can help in the overall decision.After their physician, nurse, or pharmacist, people look within their network from those they trust for good advice on medical treatments and medications.

In the iCrossing study, more than 60 percent list "Consumer Opinion Leader" as "extremely important" or "very important." Some even list the advice from their friends above that of their physician. In the same study, 75 percent indicated that they use social media in health to "connect with other consumers to exchange information or obtain support"; 55 percent noted that the most important reason to use social media over other online sites is to get cost information for a procedure or medical equipment.

Consumer-generated health content is increasing in both supply and demand. Society is benefiting from this shift. Perhaps the largest benefit to this will be seen in some small towns and health plans where the local physician is revered as a demigod. This is fine if that physician is altruistic at heart, but that is not always the case. Social media allows for an inexpensive and relevant second, third, and four hundredth medical opinion.

For Medical advice from your friends and others in similar situations use the social media trend, join or access this information through the MTM Community.