Can Social Networking Improve Health – Part 2

By Guest Blogger Michael Dornan

Social Medicine (, a health based social networking site, helps people suffering from a variety of health conditions, to globally connect, help and share information with others in similar situations, by focusing on bridging the gap of patient-to-patient communication, and patient-to-practitioner communication, with all the social networking features and functionality expected in today’s society.

It’s all about patient engagement. Society is moving on from forums and blog sites. Forums can be seen as static, where the information stored is already considered dated, and house no personal experience or instant communication. Social Medicine is about the personal experience, offering instant communication on a global scale.

Illness sufferers know more about themselves and how they are feeling, than any medical practitioner. Medical practitioners need to get involved, they should not sit back and avoid the noise made by patients. Social Medicine aims to capture patient information, products and treatments, and channel it through to reduce noise.

Consumer driven health content inspires people by outlining real life experiences. There are increasing demands in medical content, written by real people suffering from real illnesses. There are also increasing demands of:

  • Supportive health communities, psychological and social support
  • Good source of information
  • Sense of belonging to health communities, eliminating loneliness and disconnection
  • Comfort and talking to others suffering from the same condition, provides piece of mind, knowing that they are not alone.

When people hear the words social networking, they think of Facebook, a site everyone knows how to use. The big question, is Facebook the right place for patients? Illness specific groups have formed on Facebook, representing important sources of information, support, and engagement for patients with chronic disease. However, is Facebook the correct place to house these illness groups? Relatively little research has been completed on Facebook to explore what information is requested by patients, the unsolicited information that is provided, or the real reasons why these communities exist on Facebook. This valuable source of information is lost in Facebook. Beyond a low level of screening for offensive posts, there aren’t any editorial monitors or fact-checkers on Facebook.

Social Medicine has a Facebook style technology, but with new and enhanced methods of engagement, allowing patients to share and collaborate health content, to empower and educate them. Your profile is what makes you stand out in your community; make friends, upload your photos and videos, and write on walls, chat live to others one to one or in groups or comment on the blogs within your community. However more functionality is ready to deploy such as a mobile application, events creation, creating groups and polls, and a featured product store.

Further information on specific features:

  • Friend Circles and Groups, patients can become friends with other patients on a global scale
  • One to One Chat, patients can chat live and in private with each other
  • Group Chat, groups of patients can chat live
  • Blogs and the Wall, patients can post a quick question or comment (text, video and photos) on the wall for other patients to respond or rate to push the most popular comments at the top of the list on ‘Highest Rated’, ‘Most Popular’ or ‘New.’
  • Match, patients can be matched with other patients of similar characteristics.
  • Analytics, Social Medicine has a reporting and analytics layer. The medium to long term intention is to share aggregated data with pharmaceutical companies and medical device makers, who can help improve health and make a difference to healthcare and patients.

Medical professionals are encouraged to join the social revolution and begin to communicate with real people suffering from conditions on a social level. They can learn from patients and help them deal with their condition:DrV socialmedicineorg

  • What has or hasn’t worked for patients
  • Is their disease progressing fast or slow
  • How are they coping and what are the next steps

The activity found on Social Medicine can accelerate the speed of clinical research of certain conditions by collecting and analysing discussions, be it live chat, wall posts, blogs, or survey data, and further informing patients about the relevant products to be using for their conditions.

Medical professionals can better understand the social aspects in dealing with conditions on a global scale. Medical professionals have lost the ability to socially interact with people suffering from medical conditions since the small community doctor disappeared, and now have an opportunity to bring that back.

Social Medicine is a new world of social networking, that promotes exchange of knowledge, ideas and information, making user experience an energizing and a rewarding one. People understand social networking and want to be a part of it:

  • Facebook is for socialising with family and friends
  • LinkedIn for your professional contacts
  • Twitter for micro blogging
  • Social Medicine for your heath

Social Medicine’s vision is to better understand how people are connecting and sharing information about their medical conditions, the various treatments and products they are using. The data found will then be turned into information and translated into knowledge, accessible to medical practitioners to help patients on a global scale.

Social Medicine is looking to engage with medical professionals to add value to their own brand and generate brand awareness when interacting with patients. When patients begin to socially discuss products, their condition and treatments, this level of information is captured and is an invaluable source of information for medical professionals. Capturing this level of information allows medical professionals to narrow in and geo target patients on their location, condition, or other demographic characteristic, and consult with them in real time.

About Michael Dornan

Michael Dornan is a passionate IT executive, who suffers from a condition, saw there was more that could be done to connect patients and built a site that intends to globally connect and help people.

As a patient and a sufferer with Psoriasis, one of the first things Michael did was head straight to the Internet to find the latest treatment on my incurable disease. Michael searched blogs and forums, and saw the information found was very informative, as the content written was by real Psoriasis sufferers. However, Michael found that it was missing a key component, real time discussion between other patients. This unique method of communication led him to create Psoriasis Social, a social networking site for sufferers, family and friends to connect and share information globally, a site that was much needed and in high demand for people with psoriasis suffers.

Having worked in IT for the past 15+ years, 10+ in senior management positions, Michael has great technical understanding of what it takes to deliver great IT solutions to small and large businesses, being part of health Not For profits and on the board of Psoriasis Asia Pacific he has a keen interest in seeing people become empowered about their health concerns.

Michael Dornan - DrV

Michael Dornan

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