To describe the creation of a health avatar, with the goals of providing patients with complete health information from various sources, establishing an interactive and customizable platform, empowering users to determine how the health information best fits or speaks to their personal needs, and providing perspective by comparing the health status of the individual with that of the individual's community.
The Internet is rapidly becoming integrated into Americans' daily lives. According to the 2007 Health Information National Trends Study, 69% of U.S. adults had access to the Internet and 23% reported using a social networking site. The impact of social media has further grown, and an estimated 50% of adults in America have a profile on social media. The potential for using cyber communities to improve health messaging is great. Several health care organizations have implemented the use of social media in a variety of ways to varying degrees of success. We propose a platform that automatically gathers information and reflects the health status of an individual back to the user. An avatar, which is a representation of a user, could be created and assigned characteristics that allow users to appreciate their health status. The health avatar platform also would allow users to compare their personal status with that of their community. The overall goal is to engage and then motivate users to improve their overall health status.
Medicine must acknowledge the evolving relationships that the next generation of patients will have with technology. The health avatar is a platform that incorporates a connection with the health system through electronic medical records and connects individuals to the greater community.