Before you design and launch your online patient community, it’s essential that you complete critical research in 3 areas:
First, search for existing competition
Are there online patient groups that are already thriving in your community? How successful are they? Do they target the same patients you want to engage? It’s tough to start a new group if there is already a successful community in your area.
Second, interview 20-30 potential community members
This is where you find out if your idea has legs, and helps you begin to identify the core members of your new community. You’ve got to dig deep to find out their interests and activities. Through this process you learn if potential members believe they would find enough value in the community to keep coming back.
Bonus: Download our PDF 20 Essential Questions to Ask Potential Online Community Members
Third, interview your key stakeholders
It’s important to know if your chief marketing officer or other key decision-makers will ensure you have the resources (people, time, and money) to help the community succeed. But don’t forget to make sure that key clinical staff back the initiative as well.
Providers, nurses, nutritionists, and therapists can all be valuable partners in encouraging patients to join and participate in your community. But they can also throw up roadblocks. Use these interviews to highlight the benefits of your community, but make sure you’re asking direct questions to evaluate their support.
Conducting these three research steps before you invest in your online patient community will reap important benefits. They’ll establish a firm foundation for your community or help you avoid an expensive mistake.