61% of adults say they look online for health information. There's a term for them: e-patients.
20% of e-patients go to Internet and social-networking sites where they can talk to medical experts and other patients:
"They are posting their first-person accounts of treatments and side effects from medications. They are part of the conversation. And that, I think, is an indicator of where we could be going in terms of the future of participatory medicine", says Susannah Fox, with the Pew Internet and American Life Project, "The Internet now is not just information. There is a social life of information online."
There are an exponentially increasing number of ways to follow, tag, talk, poke, nudge and communicate in the virtual world. The Conversation Prism by Brian Solis (see the expanded flickr image) shows most social media facets:
This "flower" of Internet communication replaces the old starfish of Web 2.0 shown below:
Social Media Starfish created by Darren Barefoot (Creative Commons license).
Patients Turn To Online Buddies For Help Healing. NPR.