Vignettes about using Google to find health information

On the Official Google Blog, there’s an interesting series of stories about how people are using Google in their lives. The one that piqued my attention was on using Google to find health information.

A cynic would probably point to this series as propaganda and PR, but I think there’s something quite compelling about the health stories (at least to me).

The most striking thing about the three stories is how the people went to the Internet and searched for information to deliver a baby, find social support for cancer survivors, or find a surgeon. Sure the accounts are likely to be biased toward Google, but this might be a sign that more and more people are no longer waiting for our health systems to catch-up and meet our needs. Let’s be honest, if we tried to contact a health professional to get information as in the examples, it would be pretty tough.

In the case of getting instructions on how to deliver a baby, calling 911 might work. Getting information about cancer survivors would be pretty tough unless your local oncology centre has resources set-up to support patients (and family members) [see note below]. As for getting comparative information on surgeons, that sounds like a significant challenge.

NOTE: Supporting patients and their families/loved ones during their health journey (cancer or otherwise) is very important. I just want to point out a new centre created to do just that. It’s called ELLICSR which stands for Electronic Living Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Cancer Survivorship Research. I had the chance to attend ELLICSR’s launch and meet the staff and researchers there. The program of research seems very interesting, innovative, and focused on meeting practical needs of patients and family members. For example, there’s a built-in kitchen at the Centre to facilitate cooking workshops to help people create delicious food that meets the dietary needs of patients. I’m looking forward to collaborating with the folks at ELLICSR.