Patient Online Communities: Lessons from Trials

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This is part 2 of an interview with Naser Partovi, CEO of Wellaho, and the first in an occasional series exploring best practices for implementing online communities to prevent or manage illnesses. If your clinic, hospital or healthcare system would like to be considered for inclusion in this series, please contact

In my last post, Partovi shared how his personal experience influenced the design of his outpatient management software called Wellaho. Today’s post focuses on his advice for those considering online communities for patients.

Naser Partovi, who has implemented online communities for patients with congestive heart failure, diabetes, obesity, and asthma, shared his advice for others considering implementing online communities for their patients.

Talk to real people

“There are a lot of health IT tools, both software and hardware, being introduced,” said Partovi. “Talk to real patients, see what they are using and what they are not using.

Talk to real doctors and nurses because a lot of tools are great, but real patients don’t use them. Always think about every step the patients have to go through.” He added, “A lot of patients are older than most of us who are building these systems and they have limitations, so we really have to be conscious of that.”

Flexibility is important

Partovi encourages flexibility in approaching how each online community is structured.

Some physicians want to be more hands-on in monitoring patients, others have nurses monitoring the patients, and still others share the responsibility among clinic staff. Taking care to understand the specific program’s structure, working together to decide the best way to implement the online community for that specific program, and then providing training to those involved is important to the overall success.

Be aware of systemic limitations

“We cannot change the healthcare system overnight,” said Partovi, “so we have to understand how the healthcare system works.” 

Advocate online communities for your patients

Just as he was for his wife, Partovi continues to be a passionate patient advocate.

“I just hope that people who are in charge–whether in hospitals, or in government, or insurance companies–really start to think about tools like these,” said Partovi. “I’m not trying to promote my own tool, but tools like these can really help the patients. It’s a quality of life issue.”

How we help

Hive Strategies helps health systems create HIPAA-compliant online communities for better health, lower costs and greater loyalty.

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