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More opportunity for online health management

Consumers, at least Californians, do a lot of looking for health
information on the Internet — but very little health management.

California HealthCare Foundation
(CHCF) has taken a snapshot of
Californians’ use of the Internet in health care. The profile is
presented in CHCF’s report, Just Looking: Consumer Use of the Internet
to Manage Care.

Topline: insured, more affluent, and younger people use the Internet in health searching.

Chcfimage

As the chart at right details, the most popular care-related uses on the
Internet include searching for information about conditions and drugs,
finding a physician, checking ratings, and looking for claims and
benefit information online.

Some 13 percent of Californians are lucky enough to be making appointments online, and 12 percent are filling Rx’s online.

Methodologically speaking, Harris Interactive conducted the survey of
1,096 Californians by telephone between Nov. 5 and Dec. 17,
2007.

Jane’s Hot Points: Converting citizens from "search" to
"health management" is a challenge. As I ponder the implications of
CHCF’s findings for Californians, I am reminded of the Deloitte
segmentation
of the "online and onboard" consumers who are
ultra-engaged in both personal online and health worlds. As in the
diffusion of all technologies, we look to early adopters to pioneer, to
experiment, to demonstrate the goods to those who are "Missourian in
spirit" in Show-Me mode.

One of the barriers for some consumers in using providers’ and plans’
websites is the challenge of health literacy, and health plan literacy.
You can read more about each of these significant problems with the
U.S. health scene in Health Populi. If you build it, as they say, folks
won’t necessarily come unless tools and information are engaging,
relevant, and even fun or entertaining to interact with.

The drive to further adoption among citizens will be, first, among
patients themselves who are learning from each other in search of
"patients like me." An early and ongoing gem of an example of this
phenomenon is ACOR, the Association of Cancer Online Resources. I
recently spent some time talking with Gilles Frydman, ACOR’s guru, and
will be writing more about this phenomenal organization that was
founded long before any of us were talking about social media and
health.

Furthermore, as pioneers such as CHCF, the Center for Information
Therapy
, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Markle Foundation, and the
eHealth Initiative continue to generate models and data which
demonstrate the benefits and positive outcomes from online health
engagement, more financial and other incentives will be aligned with
consumers’ use of the Internet for health management. We’re already in
the early-adopter stage. The question in these cases is always how
steep with the S-curve be?

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