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Friday, June 30, 2006

Interesting Merger of The Web and Health Communications…

I worked on a study that was funded by the NiH while at comScore. The study was run through a large grant provided to Emory University and their public health communications department.

The study was focused on how the web has an impact, if any, in the exposure of teens to sexually transmitted diseases. It is a three year study, and there is a lot of work left to do before anything groundbreaking is released.

There were many things I learned by working on this project, but one was the potential for the web to be used in health communications. It is interesting to see this space, as there are many great opportunities to use the distributed, but connected, nature of the web to communicate health information.

Today the health category is mostly made up of either massive health resources such as WebMD or Pharmaceutical Companies pushing and educating consumers on their drugs. The next generation of the web as it relates to health surrounds the transfer of real-time critical, but sensitive, information.

I came across a simple and creative example of this concept in action. There is a new health communication service called InSpot is a service that sends electronic cards to partners of people diagnosed with sexually transmitted diseases. Recipients click on the cards to access a Web site with information about local STD services, including agencies that offer testing or counseling.

Traditionally, this news came in person or by phone. But the delicate task has gone digital as communication -- and sexual advances -- increasingly go online. Senders log on to the site and pick a card design, select their STD from a menu and type in people's e-mail addresses. They can e-mail anonymously -- about four-fifths do -- or they can use their own address. The majority of users add a personal message.

Health departments for Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Indiana, California and Romania have joined inSPOT, each with its own pages. Portland's pages list public and private clinics and support services in the four-county metro area.

Now, lets just hope the Spam blockers don’t block these notes. They are too important.

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