How the Internet is spreading health news



Resource post for April

Time was when dissemination of health information is a complicated affair. How do you reach billions of people in the four corners of the earth – fast?

Nowadays, spreading health news is easier than ever – through Internet technology. You can receive news on your computer, on your PDA, your black berry or your mobile phone simultaneously in real time. And health agencies are taking advantage of this technology to send out health news, issue healthcare warnings, and increase awareness. More and more health organizations and advocacy groups use the Internet to campaign and lobby for health and healthcare issues.

Let’s check out how you can avail of what is being offered out there – online and for free.

FDA twitters

With the recent large-scale peanut product, and now pistachio product recalls, the US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) has a set up a twitter account that consumers can follow to receive regular “tweets” or updates on which products to avoid. Twitter is easy and very user friendly and works well both for Internet-based and phone-based technology. Check out twitter.com/fdarecalls, follow and get tweets.

Other twitter accounts you might want to check out:

American Heart Association twitter.com/AHAScience

CDC health e-cards

Want to send an e-card? Why not a health e-card? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has created a wide range of e-cards with health messages and reminders for all occasion and covering almost all health topics from bride safety, to pregnancy, to children vaccination, and taking care of the elderly. The e-cards provide a unique opportunity to say hello, sending warm greetings, and show your family and friends that you are concerned about them and their health.

Google flu trends

Keeping up to date about the flu epidemic is now as easy as googling. Since last year, the CDC and Google have joined forces to track seasonal flu through. Through Google flu trends, the public can easily access information about the where’s and when’s of flu outbreaks. While previous flu tracking systems by the CDC rely on sentinel healthcare providers that reported cases of flu in their area, Google bases their trends on data gathered from the use of the search engine on topics related to flu. And surprisingly enough, CDC and Google data show a very good match except that Google is about two weeks ahead of time.

AHQR pod casts

The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) regularly produces audio podcasts through the news series Healthcare 411. The news series covers health topics from heart disease to cancer to diabetes, to more general healthcare news. Great for listening in your car radio, mp3 player or ipod.

Cleveland Clinic web health chats

One of the best hospitals in the US, Cleveland Clinic regularly organizes online health chats which allow patients to ask questions and get information from the hospital’s pool of experts. Participation is easy and for free.

Google Health and Health Vault

Google launched Google Health in 2007, a service that offers secure, online personalized health record services. In other words, your medical records are store online accessible on to you and those whom you give authorization to, e.g. your family and your healthcare provider.

One of Google Health’s most prestigious partners is Cleveland Clinic.

A similar service is offered by Microsoft HealthVault. It has joined forces, for example, with the American Heart Association to run AHA’s programs Heart360 and the HeartHub which allows patients to monitor and manage cardiovascular health using on online tools, e.g. blood pressure monitoring, risk assessment, and dietary planning.

Everybody’s on You Tube

During the peanut recalls in the US earlier this year, the US FDA released several You Tube video clips to inform people better about the recalls. After all, people tend to listen more if they can see the face behind the voice. The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) launched a public service campaign with Chandra Wilson as spokesperson on the safe and appropriate use over-the-counter cough and cold medicine. Through You Tube of course.

Health blogs

Blogs such as this one also try to bring you the latest health news and updates. And by commenting, you can even express your thoughts and opinion. Subscribe to out RSS feed (twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/19621763.rss) for the latest update. Or we can tweet you as well if you follow us at twitter.com/Battling.

Technology is such a wonderful thing. It connects us to the world and vice versa. While social networking is a great way to meet people on cyberspace and improve your social life, you should also use this technology to manage and improve your health.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.
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