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Coming Down from Cyberchondria, part II

By Laurie Gelb, June 7, 2011

Actual hyperchondria, by definition, entails inappropriate self-dx and/or care-seeking (fueled by what Microsoft’s paper calls “the escalation of medical concerns”).

So what escalates concerns, whether you’re buying a car or selecting a health plan? Feeling like you’re being played by self-interested advisors. Being unable to get “a straight answer.”  Reading legal disclaimers instead of declarative sentences that apply to your situation. Looking at your organization’s health content, can you honestly deny any reasons for user frustration?

What we can foster via the social Web is appropriate self-dx and care-seeking. Let’s do our best not to conflate the two.

The danger in making any important choice has always been relying on any single information source, from your best friend in the cave to a medicine show huckster – or, today, your physician or a blog post.

Recent adherence literature gives us more reason to believe what common sense reveals, that patients who believe they receive all their disease information from physicians are less compliant. If you can’t internalize your health status by and for yourself, you can’t act on it appropriately.

Two decades past the launch of the health Web, many of its content providers still occupy one of two counterproductive positions:

  1. Displays polite aloofness, with “keeping our distance” copy, stock imagery and very little to address anyone’s information gap. Syndicated, bland content meets the barest of localized/personalized functionality.
  2. Genially hosts “”whatever people want to talk about.” Want to believe that whatever you have, it’s really Lyme disease? Blame your parents for all your allergies? Your headaches on your soda habit? There’s a board for you. Hosts chat boards/rooms/live chats on which spam posts, obsession with “censorship” and a few self-appointed experts constantly duel for position.

The net effect of Model 1, where people with questions get general platitudes, is to reroute them to [the more appealing] Model 2, where reason is often drowned out by the “squeaky wheels” with personal agendas other than the truth. Dr. Oz’ gradual descent from evidence-based innovation to mystical conventional medicine critic is an example, sadly enough.

How constructive is either of these models? Is there an ROI for doing anything about it? Let Dr. Oz answer from his April 26 show:

“Do drugs and surgery work? Yeah, they often work pretty well, and they have side effects... But the difference for me is a bow and arrow, a stealth approach to getting exactly what you want to get that works in you versus the ballistic missile approach that we have so often become comfortable with.”

MCOs: do you want to pay in goodwill or dollars for the implementation and/or consequences of the “stealth approach” Dr. Oz advocates here, which has included everything from reiki to a delayed immunization schedule? Or do you want to invest in worthwhile personalization of interventions with better track records – for you and members?

The fork in the road lies before you – choose wisely!

Reader Comments (1)

Inside is made of pigskin, actually I think skin of pig skin is also a very good candidate

June 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSuperdry Outlet

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