Health Care Social Networks

It was the perfect storm: As social media sites were gaining in popularity, health care was becoming more expensive and doctors’ time was becoming more finite and valuable.

It was only a matter of time before patients and their families began turning to health care social networks for medical information and even emotional support.

The Wall Street Journal discusses the trend in an insight article:

Online health sites have been booming in the past five years … Many of the sites have recently experienced heavy traffic from users seeking information on the H1N1 virus. Officials of the Health 2.0 Conference, which tracks the industry, estimate that the number of such sites climbed to nearly 500 from about 35 four years ago.

The sites generally have evolved from the encyclopedic-styled WebMD, becoming more interactive and case-study- oriented, such as Inspire, PatientsLikeMe and CureTogether.

“You’re seeing right now an expansion phase of the relatively early part of the technology cycle,” said Matthew Holt, co-founder of the Health 2.0 Conference. “There’s a significant advance in what sites are doing.”

The article discusses in detail how several patient-focused health care social networks are evolving:

  • WiserTogether: This site was created by a mother in the D.C. area to allow expectant parents to share the experiences of other parents in their age group and who have experienced similar circumstances.
  • Inspire: Buy Drugs This social networking site was founded in 2005 and currently consisting of 130,000 members. It allows members to share their health problems and experiences with different treatments.
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