Social Networking for Health: Forming a Community Anywhere Anytime

Facebook, LinkIn, Foursquare, Google+, MeetUp… These are only a few of the social networking communities that we come into contact on a daily basis. While some individuals would use these tools/join these communities to stay connected with their friends and families who they do not see on a daily basis, others would use them to attempt at expanding their businesses, hoping to arrive at more opportunities. No matter what the reasons are for using the aforementioned social networking tools, these are the fortunate individuals. There are, however, some less fortunate ones who use these tools to search fellow patients, hoping to find someone who is facing the same pressure to control/manage their medical conditions or – even simpler – to survive. This group of individuals – we call them patients – is able to communicate, gather information, collaborate, and even share insights before making decisions affecting their health and possibly the quality of care they might receive. These social networks, thus, become platforms where patients can reach out to one another to form communities from anywhere they might be and at any time they see fit.

As noted in Heather Mansfield’s book, A How-To Guide for Nonprofits: Social Media for Social Good, Allison Nassour, a social media manager at Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, stated, “Facebook has been a highly effective tool in communicating the message of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, but it also allows our fans to support one another. Many openly share advice about grief and caring for a loved one living with pancreatic cancer. That’s what makes Facebook, and social media in general, so powerful. It provides the ability for people and nonprofits to connect with one another in a way that is open and meaningful” (Mansfield, 2012). This is a perfect example of forming a community anywhere anytime – a group of individuals coming together because they are facing the same problem whether be the patients fighting so hard to stay alive or be their strongest support providing the warmest care.

Pacreatice Cancer Action Network

Over the years, Facebook has become more than just a website that connects one another through sharing photos, videos, news, and personal information; instead, Facebook has become “deeply entrenched in the online lives of people of all ages, and economic and political backgrounds” (Mansfield, 2012). To me, this sounds like a solid foundation in building communities of any kind, especially in disseminating health-related information, sharing experiences in managing and fighting to live under the influences of certain medical conditions, or providing expert opinions on assisting patients and families to make healthcare decisions. What is more important is the communication, collaboration, and sharing of insights and wisdom are limitless as long as there are a providing end and a receiving end.

Facebook, LinkIn, Foursquare, and Google+ are just the tip of the iceberg in the social media or social networking world. The following list was put together by Deloitte Center for Health Solutions in providing the general public with more information on what social networks are out there.

01

Not only businesses (small and large) benefit from social networks, health agencies and organizations also share that benefit from reaching out to the public, disseminating messages, and more importantly forming communities. Here are two examples (highlighted in yellow) listed by Deloitte Center for Health Solutions.

02

Many, many health-related social networks have been established to serve the purpose of forming communities to fit the specific needs of each subpopulation. Here is a select list.

03

All in all, social media is just a tool that attempts to bring people closer together, setting the platform to form communities/social networks in the virtual world on the Internet. The aim, however, is to extend the connections formed in the virtual world into our real world in providing the much needed support to a fellow patient, in advising those who need a second opinion from an expert, as well as in disseminating health and wellness information and messages as fellow human beings.

References:

  • Mansfield, H. (2012). Social Media for Social Good. A How-To Guide For Nonprofits. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Companies.
  • (2010). Issue Brief: Social Networks in Health Care: Communication, Collaboration, and Insights. Deloitte Center for Health Solutions.
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5 thoughts on “Social Networking for Health: Forming a Community Anywhere Anytime

  1. Hi Clipper, I really enjoyed reading your blog post. It was easy to read and the resources you provide are very useful. I actually went into the website http://www.inspire.com and created an account just to try it and see the type of posts. I am in the field of disease management so I visited the group inspiration for diet and nutrition. There was this question: Has anyone found a natural way of lowering you blood pressure??. The answers to this post were really good and had great information, much of what I share with the participants of our program every day. It is great to see how the own community of people dealing with this condition have the willingness to have these type of blogs where they are answering each other questions. Being part of these blogs helps these people to know there are others in the same situation and as you explain in your blog, they are a support of one another. By the way the question post had an answer in 4 days – good turnaround time I think.

    Thank you so much for sharing the additional health social media sites. I enjoyed learning about other sites besides the most common ones such as LinkedIn and Facebook.

  2. I liked how you focused the content of your post on the health theme Clipper. I thought the material was interesting and I liked the illustrations you gave, highlighting your examples and the fact that clicking the images gave larger versions of the tables.

    I think the post would benefit from introducing your main content earlier – so shortening the first paragraph – so as not to loose readers. Bolding some of the key information might also help in navigating the post.

  3. Hi there,

    I like that you’ve highlighted the specific use of forming and fostering community in health care through social media. The facebook page screen shot you provided is an excellent example of this typ eof page.

    One suggestion I have is adding a little more description to go along with the embedded images. While you tell us what each list contains, it would help for you to talk about some of the enteries, so that it’s easier to parse down the information, and the reader doesn’t necessarily have to click each image to see the content.

    I also agree with Ruth on making the intro paragraph a little shorter, but also adding more to the Facebook example. The screenshot is great, but a link to their page and some highlights of what’s really good about their page would help emphasize your point 🙂

  4. Hi Clipper,

    I found your post very easy to read and provided great examples as how social media is used in the field of public health especially for patients. I agree with you that social media has created a great resource for everyone to find people with same interest and concern. People from all around the word are able to join each other without having to step outside.
    One thing I however find it limiting is the social media and elderly population. At times even though social media such as Facebook can be very ideal tool to use, it is important to consider the audience especially if the non-profit serves the elderly population.

    I found the length of your post appropriate and excellent reference listing. A few suggestion would include using a photo that is more catchy at a glance to engage readers and then list examples.

  5. Really enjoyed reading your post, Clipper. Both my parents had major medical issues last year, and at the time, I didn’t have the mind-space to consider finding a likeminded community and benefit from those connections on social networking sites, so reading this was kind of an aha moment. And it also makes this conversation you’ve started very shareable. Good job!

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