What’s Health Got to Do with It?

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how the Internet Strategy team is focusing on consumer-oriented health content as a strategy for meeting the strategic priority of patient- and family-centered care.

So it’s pretty exciting to introduce the new Healthy Aging section on hopkinsmedicine.org. Healthy Aging focuses on bringing consumers clear, actionable information about how to maintain their own health, manage conditions they may have and support aging family members who face serious diagnoses, all based on Johns Hopkins research and expert insight. This new Web area represents the largest consumer-oriented health endeavor by Marketing and Communications since the Health Library and is the first of several planned life stage/lifestyle-oriented areas.

Why health? And why aging?

Our institution focuses on solving some very serious diseases and conditions from both a research and treatment perspective; we deal with some of the most complicated and rare conditions. So where does the pursuit of plain old good health come in? (Not through the front doors of the hospital, generally.)

Our mission states that we strive to prevent, diagnose and treat human illness. And sadly, the knowledge our faculty and staff members have on how to live healthier and longer is often untapped by the people who most desire to put that news into action! All of this, coupled with the growing emphasis on population health management, helps Johns Hopkins Medicine showcase its leadership in preventive care education and in controlling chronic conditions.

Now, onto the aging part. A couple of points of context: The folks who developed the Web 1.0—Yahoo!, Amazon, CNET—and the millions who used it are pretty much all over 40 now. The “mommies” who made such first-wave sites as iVillage.com and Babycenter.com household names now have kids in their teens and, more importantly, parents in their 60s and 70s. The Pew Internet & American Life Project points out that family caregivers—those responsible for some level of care of a family member – are the largest consumers of health information online. A 2010 study found that the younger end of the Baby Boomer cohort is as likely to be online as younger generations. This infographic, while slightly dated, provides a glimpse of how active older generations are in key online activities:

Generations Online 2010: Summary of Findings

How does this help grow our institution?

This sort of content also helps us reach consumers before illness strikes, so out-of-state patients in particular can be familiar with our resources and have us at the forefront of their mind when they do receive a serious diagnosis.

This Web launch builds on the foundational content of the Health Library to provide the best health advice available online to consumers—it’s from Johns Hopkins, after all—serve our mission to educate, treat and perform research, and further propel the growth of hopkinsmedicine.org as an online health information resource.

Finally, words of thanks.

As with any worthy endeavor at Johns Hopkins, none of this would be possible without the direction, input and support of our faculty and clinical staff members. Several key members of the institution believed in this project and supported us through it, and they took time from their schedules to speak with writers and review content. The Internet Strategy team expresses its gratitude in particular to:

  • The Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, particularly Samuel Durso and Jeremy Barron, for the time they spent providing input and review of the entire site.
  • Alicia Abarje, Andrew Angelino, Xu Cao , Argye Hillis, Rita Kalyani, Harpal Khanuja, Thomas Kirsch, Frank Lin, Charles Limb, Kostas Lyketosos, Peter Rabins, David Roth, Stuart Russell, Rachel Salas, Deborah Sellmeyer, Tom Smith, Karen Swartz, James Wright, Michelle Carlstrom, Dierdre Johnston and Lisa Yanek for participating as sources and reviewing articles for which they were interviewed.

I invite you to spend some time on the site, and if you have a story idea of your own based on your research or clinical experience, please let us know!