Online health info matters because people act on it

Google health industry director Mary Ann Belliveau guest-posted on CNN’s health blog this week. Her main point? That after 15 years in health care (nine with Google), she’s learned that “‘health’ isn’t just another category of information,” a fact she attributes to privacy issues and the life-or-death stakes that don’t generally accompany videos of Justin Bieber or Mentos and Coke.

She also said that health videos are exceedingly popular on Youtube — they beat out celebrities, sports and food — and that patients’ (and caregivers’) No. 1 desire is to “hear from people in situations similar to their own.”

More interestingly, she shared the results of what appeared to be recent, Google-conducted user surveys. The big lesson? People really do take real-world action based on health information they find online. It’s yet another reminder of the importance — and stakes — of accurate online health reporting. Here are the numbers:

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