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Are online communities commoditising our health information?

A few weeks ago I interviewed the founder of HealthUnlocked.  HealthUnlocked are an online community for patients looking for support and advice on their health related issues.

They form part of a growing band of sites that are launching to allow people to talk to other people about their conditions and symptoms.

I was reading an interesting paper earlier today, and embedded below, that looks at this growing trend, and in particular on the large amount of data these sites are harvesting about us and our healthcare.

The paper was written by Deborah Lupton from Sydney University.  She looks into whether healthcare will inevitably follow the model used by other industries that have used the data we have provided to social networks to market products to us effectively.

That’s certainly the belief of Lupton, and her article raises questions over whether that commercialisation is appropriate or not.

I’m not sure I agree with her conclusion, but it’s certainly an interesting read.

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