Home > health care social media, Healthcare > Patient communities at heart of health care social media (#hcsm) revolution

Patient communities at heart of health care social media (#hcsm) revolution

As the husband of a metastatic breast cancer thriver, I jumped at the opportunity to attend a breakout session at the Health Care Social Media Summit called Online social networks: A benefit to patients, physicians. The panel, moderated by Dr. Farris Timimi of Mayo Clinic, included speakers from Inspire, CaringBridge and EmpowHER. All three have helped my wife at various points in her cancer journey.

Efforts such as these give me a passion to push ahead with health care social media. To me, patient communities comprise the heart of the health care social media revolution. Our family has benefited first-hand from the honest, heart-felt sharing of these online groups. We have been empowered with information to help physicians come up with better treatment options. We have heard from women from around the globe with the exact type of cancer who received the precise course of treatment. We have learned about their challenges with aspects such as insurance coverage… and how they overcame them.

So it was awesome for me to shake the hand of Brian Loew, CEO of Inspire, which has been particularly helpful lately. Lowe shared during the session about how patients create an enormous amount of value by  sharing in this strong, safe platform. He spoke about how they are connecting to improve health. (By the way, it was interesting to note that Inspire moderates its forums to prevent craziness. Inspire bans 1 in 5,000.) He noted that Inspire does not replace the role of the doctor, a concern of some when it launched. I found it encouraging when an open-minded physician in the audience said that doctors could learn about new treatments outside of established  guidelines by listening to what’s said in patient communities.

Meanwhile, Sonya Mehring, founder of CaringBridge, said she thinks doctors should direct patients and caregivers to resources such as CaringBridge. Mehring  pointed out that 70 percent of the content is created by caregivers.  She founded CaringBridge back in 1997 and has seen it become such an important hub of communication for families and friends as the Internet has evolved. In fact, soon mobile will surpass traditional web traffic.

A representative from EmpoweHER (sorry I missed her name) noted that nine of 10 women seek health information online. It’s important to ensure they find good information.

After chatting briefly with Loew, I bumped into Dr. Timimi. He said the discussion points to tremendous opportunity for healthcare providers — one that affects the bottom line, with metrics such as patient satisfaction and quality playing an increasingly big role in funding. He added that online communities can contribute to clinical efficiency, as educated patients come better prepared for conversations with physicians. And patient communities offer great potential for research, he noted. He encouraged me to identify and encourage early adopters in the medical community to embrace social media. I plan to do just that!

  1. November 30, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    Good post! We will be linking to this great article on our website.
    Keep up the good writing.

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