Today in my Daily Dose e-newsletter from Modern Healthcare, there was a thought provoking post to the Daily Dialogue Reader Blog by Dmitriy Kruglyak titled “Buzz Surrounding Health 2.0 ‘Way Overblown’.” The article is a response to Rebecca Vesely’s earlier article: “Money Woes Don’t Slow Health 2.0.”
Dmitriy predicts the eventual demise of the Health 2.0 revolution and already sees the handwriting on the wall. “The whole premise of the Health 2.0 model is based on the majority of consumers wanting to actively engage around health online. However, years of data demonstrate that this engagement mostly happens episodically and rarely goes beyond passive consumption of information.” (Source: Daily Dialogue Reader Blog, October 30, 2008) He goes on to say that “since the Health 2.0 concept is a derivative of Web 2.0, it is helpful to look at what is happening to the original. Investors and entrepreneurs in that space have already done the math and are retrenching in the face of a tanking economy.”
Surely this Web 2.0/Health 2.0 movement will evolve into something different and perhaps better over time. Web 2.0 is without a doubt an early chapter of a large book that is writing itself over time. But I will add that the Genie (user generated content and citizen journalism) has been let out of the bottle. Bringing Web 2.0 to the masses and giving them a voice was the equivalent of unleashing democracy on the people of a repressed nation. It has been liberating and empowering – and at times a little scary. After all, giving people a voice doesn’t mean you will always find wisdom in their communication; you also give voice to objectionable, offensive and ill-informed opinions. But that’s democracy.
Importantly, Web 2.0 has contributed significantly to community building among people who have a definite need for connecting with other like minded individuals. Using the Web, people facing health crises have been able to connect with others confronting the same ailment, share information and find community. This trend is not likely to diminish. As I mentioned in an earlier post, a recent report release by comScore, Inc. showed that Internet use for health information is growing at four times the rate of the total Internet. The category grew 21% over the past year with Web MD leading the field with 17.3 million visitors in July. Everyday Health, Revolution Health and AOL Health each attracted more than 10 million visitors in July. In total, 56 million people in the United States sought out health information online in the month of July.
So don’t be too quick to report the death of Health 2.0 or Web 2.0. But you can count on it changing and evolving into something different. My fear is that those predicting the demise of Health 2.0 are encouraging the late adopters of the technology to continue living with their heads in the sand. I’m talking about healthcare professionals, not consumers. Even if you don’t believe Health 2.0 is here to stay, you have to admit there will be something new and pervasive to take its place. It would be in your best interest to try to understand it – and perhaps, even engage it.