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The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

June - 2010 - issue > Technology

Preventive Healthcare Through Social Networking

Subhash K Parameswaran
Friday, June 4, 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.

Sharing of Health Tips
Create a social networking site where members can share tips on health and wellness. The content can be monitored by qualified physicians for accuracy and also to ensure that the comments are appropriate. These physicians can also append their own suggestions on the tips. Information such as calories contained in common foods, recommended portions for specific diets, and easy cures for common illnesses can also be shared through this site. Magazines already provide similar columns by physicians and this would be more attractive on a website.

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