We’ve reported before about how healthcare professionals use social media to connect with patients, disseminate information and monitor social media to predict trends. But there is also the social + mobile revolution occurring where people want to share symptoms, pictures, diagnoses, medicines, etc. in order to get healthcare opinions about treatment options. For these people, social media is a haven with a wealth of information. And perhaps no place is better than Sharecare, which was recently dubbed by Dr. Oz as the Facebook for health.

So what is Sharecare exactly? It’s a social platform for patients to gain insight and knowledge about their issues, and a place for doctors and hospitals to garner referrals, book appointments and more–all online. By answering questions and engaging with their patients online, the hope is that more people will be apt to seek a healthcare physician, namely one that participates on the platform and helps them. It’s actually a pretty great idea. As our recent health infographic points out, 3 out of 5 Internet users searches for health information online. Additionally, 35-40% of adults search for hospitals or doctors online, though it’s often on a search engine. But if a social platform makes it easier to find information and get referrals for physicians, it seems likely that people would migrate to using it. After all, web-savvy Jeff Arnold (the founder of WebMD) and Dr. Oz are the partners behind Sharecare. To this end, they have also launched a HealthMakers 250 video channel, which houses over 2,000 videos from healthcare professionals answering questions and educating the public. These video assets are just another way that the partners are capitalizing on a growing web trend.

So what does this shift mean for those in healthcare marketing? Essentially it means that people are looking to engage with professionals online in order to get clear, concise and accurate information. There is a lot of garbage out there–even on sites like WebMD–which will inevitably show results for some type of cancer in practically every symptom search, effectively scaring the user. Therefore, if there is a more trusted, aggregated source and it happens to capitalize on the social sharing trend, it seems like it would be a win-win for both patient and provider. The importance of engagement with patients from healthcare professionals is not new, but how patients wish to be connected with is invariably shifting. Participating in forums, on social media and on platforms like Sharecare could be a wave of the future, removing the severity and intimidation from visiting a doctor’s office. Capitalizing on the trend of social sharing in healthcare can not only positively impact your bottom line, but give you insight into the new patient and consumer.