Health engagement helps to bolster health citizens’ positive health outcomes. Microsoft has released the 2009 Health Engagement Survey, focusing on health plan enrollees’ online behaviors and perceptions of the U.S. health system.

Microsoft found that 1 in 2 Americans view the U.S. health system as ‘fragmented,’ which creates challenges in helping people manage their health care and health behaviors.

These people tend more to look online for health information, versus turning to health professionals or health plans.

Furthermore, when seeking health information online, people make more reactive than proactive decisions. As the chart illustrates, 2/3 of people search topics on specific diseases they have been diagnosed with. Fewer people search online on topics regarding wellness and whole health.

On the positive side, Microsoft points out that health citizens welcome health coaching support that technology enables. For example, 2 in 3 Americans are interested in receiving health-related encouragement or reminder e-mails from health plans. 52% would be willing to receive e-mails that provide them with feedback on their health progress.

62% health citizens said they believed that personal health records are valuable.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: As consumers use online tools to manage their lives’ tasks, more are open to using online tools for health. Microsoft learned that people would generally welcome email messages as conduits for health messaging and support.

Microsoft’s lens on this survey was health plans. I would point you to the Edelman Health Engagement Barometer, published in October 2008, to a key data point which found that American health info-entials (the most highly engaged health citizens) tend to trust personal and health expert channels compared to other sources of health information. Health plans have a ways to go to earn the health public’s trust for health engagement.

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