Ways Peer-to-Peer Healthcare Support Can Help Patients

Peer-to-peer Healthcare Support is gaining more ground in the healthcare industry because of its newly found benefits and contributions to patient care. The use of the internet and technology in healthcare has also greatly contributed to the spread of Peer-to-peer Healthcare Support. Basically, the internet gives patients and caregivers access not only to information but also to each other. People network with each other on every level and that includes issues of their health.

People are more and more prone to turn to family, friends, and communities online for advice when they have a health issue or a health problem. Online peer-to-peer support is particularly growing in the areas of rare diseases. People turn to online communities that congregate people from all over the country and the world, who have the same or similar health problems. Even though health professionals remain the central source of information for most patients, peer-to-peer healthcare support is becoming a more significant supplement.

A survey was done on 3,001 adults in the united states. It was a telephone study and the conclusion was that peer-to-peer healthcare support is becoming increasingly popular in the united states. Another analysis was done based on an online survey of 2,156 members of the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) who wrote short essays about their use of the internet in caring for themselves or for their loved ones. One in five internet users has gone online to find others like them. Eighteen percent of internet users say they have gone online to find others who might have health concerns similar to theirs.

The results from these studies suggest that people living with chronic conditions are more likely to seek peer-to-peer healthcare support online, For example, one in four internet users living with high blood pressure, diabetes, heart conditions, lung conditions, cancer, or some other chronic ailment (23%) say they have gone online to find others with similar health concerns. By contrast, 15% of internet users who report no chronic conditions have sought such help online. Seeking for peer-to-peer healthcare support online also extends to individuals who are caring for loved ones with chronic diseases.

Also, individuals who have experienced a significant change in their physical health, such as weight loss or gain, pregnancy, or quitting smoking. Some of these individuals go on to form powerful connections with other people in these communities who are going through similar situations. These kinds of bonding and frequent communications, causes patients to open up and feel more heard and it improves their state of being.

Deeper Conversations

In an ideal world, a doctor or nurse should have the time to sit down with a patient and listen to them attentively, answer all their questions and guide them through the process of receiving care. This is not the case in the real world. With doctors having to attend to so many patients in a limited period of time, there is only so much they can do. This is where the usefulness of peer-to-peer healthcare support comes in.

Patients can connect with other patients who have gone through, or are going through similar situations and seek comfort in having questions about their fears and doubts answered. They can also get quality advice from patients who have gone through the treatment process on the best way to be more engaged, tips on how to receive care and even information on insurance and such.

The Internet

The internet has made communication easier and has broken physical and location boundaries that existed with getting peer support. Now patients can seek support from people all over the world and have a more in-depth knowledge on their health issue because they can get diverse input from people of different backgrounds, countries, and locations. The internet is also a way for individuals to gain more information about their health.

For example, there are medical conditions that patients read about and they become more informed and go to the doctors to have themselves checked out. Using the internet to remind women to do breast exams is a form of peer-to-peer healthcare support. Online discussion forums or app discussion forums for expecting moms or women trying to get pregnant exist and it’s a form of peer-to-peer healthcare support.

Helping Someone Helps You

For many individuals, just being able to talk about their problem in a community that they are sure would listen, makes them feel good. In addition, being able to help someone else makes them feel good about themselves and makes them feel not too hopeless. It can be gratifying to help other people with their issues. This gives and takes of information and support help people not feel so isolated.

Support Groups

Some of these support groups are put together for research purposes. Regardless of the use, support groups give individuals a chance to share their experiences while also providing support and encouragement to other going through similar experiences. Many patients have attested to really benefiting from support groups like this and having the opportunity to form a real connection with other people.

A Word of Caution on Peer-to-Peer Healthcare Support

Despite the many advantages of peer-to-peer healthcare support, patients need to take care not to confuse advice from the internet with getting professional advice from a doctor. Also, people are different and their experiences differ so everything said must be taken with caution. We’ve all been there when we have a  headache and we go on WebMD to read about possible diagnosis and we go into this back hole of reading about all the worst things that could be wrong and by the time we are don we think that headache is a symptom for imminent death.

Also, misinformation wrapped up in a personal healthcare story can have a huge negative impact on people reading it who connect with that story. It might be hard to seperate the emotional from the factual. Many people share their own opinions not backed by any scientific or medical data and they share these opinions with authority that many unsuspecting people believe it over the word of their doctors. Patients must be wary of this.