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June - 2010 - issue > Technology

Preventive Healthcare Through Social Networking

Subhash K Parameswaran
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Subhash K Parameswaran
Social networking is replacing several traditional forms of contact management through its ability to quickly create significant impact on targeted populations. The recent decision by Pepsi to avoid Super Bowl advertising to focus on social networking advertising is an example. Even though some attempts have been made by a few health insurance companies, enough attention has not been paid to the use of social networking sites in this direction. With increasing healthcare costs ruling the headlines these days, it is important that healthcare companies evaluate the use of social networking features to promote preventive care.

Why Focus on Preventive Healthcare?

Most healthcare debates focus on how to reduce the administrative costs incurred by the insurance companies. However, insurance companies claim that about 85 percent of their premium revenues go back into paying for services and only 15 percent of the total revenue is spent on administration overhead and profits. Hence, even a small percentage of reduction in the service provider costs can significantly reduce the overall price of healthcare. Lifestyle choices and proper preventive health measures can significantly reduce the number of incidents for members, thus contributing to the cost savings.

How Does Social Networking Help in Improving Preventive Healthcare?

It has been proven in the past, by the likes of Weight Watchers Clubs, that social pressure definitely helps to improve lifestyle. A large percentage of the population may not wish to disclose their weight or eating habits to the public, or even to friends. But the anonymity offered in these forums will very likely improve the participation and produce impressive results. A few such applications of social networking in improving overall health of members are discussed below.

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Reader's comments(2)
1:Social networking sites can definitely bring down costs incurred on many headings. However, I believe majority of rural population still live outside the \"e\" world irrespective of continents or countries. They are the people who are actually in need of aids like insurance coverage for their medical expenses. Good amount of urban population can ... See moreafford their medical expenses. so the question is how to reach the majority rural population who doesn\'t have access to internet or computers and popularize the medical insurance packages. I believe until and unless the premium costs come down to an affordable state with the help of governments or agencies like WHO, rural population will stay away from medical insurance sector. BOT- Buuild Own and Transfer by governments / WHO to public could be the only way.
Posted by: Deleep Prasadchandran - 02nd Jun 2010
2:I would take a different take from Deleep. I completely agree that the healthcare should be available and to all. However, what Subash suggests here is a radically innovative approach to executing healthcare. While implementing this, I would be more focused on the innovators and early adopters of the Rogers Adoption Curve for healthcare consumers. The early adopters would exist within the groups of Facebook, myspace and other social networking sites. Once you have them in your hold, ensure that the phenomenon tips. Once it has you just sit and wait for the late majority and laggards (in this case the rural community) to catch up. I am sure it is not just as simple, but if I clear all the cobwebs of implementation and try present a case, this would be it.
Muthu Sundaresan replied to: Deleep Prasadchandran post - 02nd Jun 2010
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