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Health & Wellness
Social Health Meets BlogWorld

I'm a big fan of the research conducted by Susannah Fox and her colleagues over at the Pew Internet and American Life Project. One of their reports that I often turn to when asked about the impact of the Internet on health in America is her 2009 report, the Social Life of Health Information. According to that report, 61% of Americans look online for health information, and of those, a majority access user generated content.

Clearly the use of social networks is having a dramatic impact on how people manage their healthcare needs. To better understand the opportunities and hurdles faced by different stakeholders -- from patients to physicians to manufacturers -- a special health-focused track is being held today at the BlogWorld and New Media Expo in Las Vegas.

We're one of the sponsors, and to generate a lively discussion on this subject we've invited speakers and panelists from the medical and patient blogging worlds who can share first-hand their experiences, thoughts, needs and issues. I'm personally looking forward to catching today's opening keynote from e-Patient Dave deBronkart, to catch up with old friends like Kerri Sparling of Six Until Me, Kevin Pho of Kevin MD and Bryan Vartabedian of 33 Charts, Jenny Prokopy of Chronic Babe and many others.

So far today, Dave deBronkart delivered a passionate keynote address, where he described his own journey as an e-patient, and how online information helped him become a more successful advocate for his own health. Picking up the role of the informed patient, I later chaired panel with Greg Matthews, Dave deBronkart, Frank Eliason and Bob Stern, from fellow sponsor, MedPage Today, where we discussed the opportunities and hurdles facing manufacturers, providers and other members of industry as they seek to interact and engage with these online health advocates. What became clear through the course of the conversation, was that there was still much that could -- and should -- be done, despite perceived legal and regulatory limitations.

Stay tuned for further updates.

BTW -- In addition to MedPage Today, the day is being sponsored by the Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing and WEGO Health.