Online video blogs can connect chronic disease patients & enhance engagement

Online patient video journals or blogs may help enhance patient engagement for individuals with chronic illnesses, especially those under the age of 50 years, according to a commentary published in the journal The Patient.

Authored by Joy L. Lee, PhD, an investigator at Indianapolis-based Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University Center for Health Services and Outcomes Research and her team, the commentary suggests that video blogs can be a useful medium for engaging patients.

"Given the potential impact of online information, physicians and other clinicians should consider familiarizing themselves with key vloggers who can provide a window into a disease," Dr. Lee said in a statement.

The commentary mentions a couple who produce a popular video blog called "The Frey Life" that chronicles their experiences in managing Ms. Frey's cystic fibrosis. These types of vlogs, which can reach thousands of people, help chronic disease patients and their loved ones connect with others who are going through similar experiences.

"YouTubers like the Freys are becoming influential figures in the lives of many Americans, " said Albert Wu, MD, of Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, senior author of the paper. "Physicians should acknowledge that often they [vloggers] do a better job of engaging some patients, especially younger ones, and should we willing to add vlogs to their therapeutic toolkit."

The commentary authors note, however, that some vlogs are more reliable than others, and thus, healthcare providers should carefully select the vlogs they recommend.

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