Patient, Heal Thyself: How to Succeed with Online Consumer Health Sites

March 6, 2008 at 2:16 am 6 comments

I spoke today at the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council Healthcare Lunch & Learn Series on Patient, Heal Thyself: How to Succeed with Online Consumer Health Sites. My co-presenters were John Lester (also known as Pathfinder Linden) who left Second Life for Waltham and Amir Lewkowicz, co-founder and Vice President for Partnerships at Inspire. I will post my notes shortly but until then, here is the abstract:

With consumer-directed care, patients are being asked to play a greater role in their health care. Moreover, those with chronic diseases often get better counsel from other sufferers than they do from physicians. This talk will cover the most effective ways to design and evaluate online health communities.

Changes in the health care system and the pervasiveness of the Internet have led to an increased use of the Internet by health care consumers. 80% of people in the US who use the Internet are using it for health searches.

Health web sites and online health communities provide a means for patients and their families to learn about an illness and seek support. The importance of online consumer health is evidenced by the popularity of sites such as WebMD and RevolutionHealth. Consumer health sites have a significant impact on the quality of life of their users who turn to them before seeking medical help.

Health web sites and online health communities raise difficult design challenges. These challenges include wide variability of participant’s medical expertise, health literacy, and technology literacy. A major risk is the potential consequences when poor advice is taken or when professional treatment is not sought.

By participating in this interactive discussion you will learn:

1) How online communities benefit consumers and businesses
2) How the nature of the disease or illness impacts site design
3) How innovative Web 2.0 technologies can enhance participation
4) What is necessary to start and sustain successful sites

Entry filed under: health, online health communities, Web 2.0. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Who Am I Today? The Problem of Multiple Online Identities The Disconnect Between Patients and Doctors

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. laynekerr  |  May 18, 2008 at 11:51 am

    nice most effective ways to design and evaluate online health communities.

  • 2. kent  |  May 13, 2008 at 10:56 pm

    my idea health web sites Succeed with online maybe use health communities ,update information ,guide consumer health , design website interesting.

  • 3. Kay Aubrey  |  March 10, 2008 at 6:53 am

    Lisa – I thoroughly enjoyed your presentation this past Wednesday. You were very engaging and did a superb job of developing your themes. I especially appreciated how you offered specific insights on why the most successful eHealth communities work.

  • […] 7, 2008 In yesterday’s talk, Patient, Heal Thyself: How to Succeed with Online Consumer Health Sites, I started off by asking if I should lose 10 lbs. on the Atkins diet or by joining Weight Watchers. […]

  • 5. Ed Cunningham  |  March 7, 2008 at 1:29 am


    Nicely done yesterday. I was front left at the MTLC meeting yesterday and I had one quick question for you. Did you say that there is some type of accreditation or ‘seal of approval’ if you will that ensures that medical advice on a particular site is appropriate, accurate and medically sound? Or is this something that is being worked on? If it’s not available maybe it should be done and doctors could send web site prescriptions to these sites for patients in addition to medical prescriptions – based on diagnosis…the site could be monitored by paid licensed specialists.

  • […] with Online Consumer Health … Posted in March 5th, 2008 by in free medical consent forms Lisa Neal always has something good to say. I like this one posted earlier today. Follow the link for the […]


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Lisa Gualtieri, PhD, ScM

Lisa GualtieriLisa Gualtieri is Assistant Professor at Tufts University School of Medicine in the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine. She is Director of the Certificate Program in Digital Health Communication. Lisa teaches Designing Health Campaigns using Social Media, Social Media and Health, Mobile Health Design, and Digital Strategies for Health Communication. Contact Lisa:


%d bloggers like this: