Sure, there was evidence that consumers used the Internet to find health information. But there was no evidence that Web 2.0/social media tools actually improved health outcomes. If there is any evidence of this, I'd like to see it.
We're working on this at http://getupandmove.me, starting with preventive wellness oriented activities like 'microfitness.'
Because a getupandmove challenge has a pretty easy to understand algorithm: (u1+a+t) + (u2+a+t) = GUAM completed challenge, where u1 is a challenger (on Twitter) and u2 is a responder (on Twitter), and 'a' = activity and 't' = time or duration, we can track pretty easily whether or not two people using Twitter are improving not only their OWN health, but that of the other person they are challenging.
At almost 6 weeks in, we have nearly 300 users. I understand 1500 is a usable statistical sample size, so we're implementing Facebook integration next week (January 18th) to gain more users.
Notice, we're still JUST using self reporting via social media sites and services.
Although we examined the possibility of including virtual goods exchanges and micropayments from launch, we decided not to roll out these features early - thus there are NO other incentives to move other than the people in your existing social graphs (which you self-select and control by adding/removing friends and followers) and how those relationships impact your every day decision making.
John, I'd point you to other social media services for wellness like DailyMile.com, Skimble.com, and the Facebook app RunThere as a start.
Now, what will be VERY interesting is when one of these platforms, hopefully getupandmove.me, makes the jump to clinical support and patient decision-making *within* the traditional care delivery setting for things like completing physical therapy exercises while in a long term care facility, or taking your medications more often (even refilling them).
Happy to speak with you more about what we're seeing in terms of early attempts to generate the type of relevant evidence you're talking about.