Dr. Ashish Joshi, Associate Dean at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, along with alumna Dr. Rinzin Wangmo, and current student, Ms. Chioma Amadi, described the features of Internet health informatics blogs.
The research team conducted a search in August, 2016 using Google, and key words: ‘mobile health blog,’ ‘telehealth/telemedicine blog,’ ‘Electronic Health Record blog,’ ‘personalized health record blog,’ ‘population health decision support system blog,’ and ‘public/population health dashboard blog.’ The first 24 blogs resulting from each key word search were recorded, generating 144 blogs. A total of 109 unique blogs resulted after removing duplicates and non-functional sites.
Blogs with ‘.com’ extensions were most prevalent (72%, n = 79). More than half of the blogs (79%, n = 86) were created by industries. Mobile health (88%, n = 96), telehealth (82%, n = 89), and health IT (78%, n = 85) were the predominant topics covered. Health providers (44%, n = 48), industries (33%, n = 36), patients/consumers (25%, n = 27) and payers/insurance providers (19%, n = 21) constituted the most common target audience. Blogs catering to payers commonly used ‘.org’ extension (n = 10 out of 21), compared to ‘.com’ (n = 7) or ‘.gov’ (n = 2) (p < 0.0001). Significant differences were also observed by topics covered such as health IT (p = 0.007), subscription (p = 0.048) and LinkedIn social media (p = 0.019) across the website extensions.
The authors concluded that further research is needed to understand the use of blogs as channels of communication of best evidence in health informatics research among diverse stakeholders. The role of blogs as policy informatics tools need evaluation in order for stakeholders to collaborate, coordinate and share opportunities and challenges of various public health programs and policies.
“It will be interesting to further explore the role of blogs as a useful medium of disseminating health technology innovations,” concludes Dr. Joshi.