Do your research, start small, eliminate barriers, and other tips for online patient communities

Last week, as part of social media week at Mayo Clinic, I presented “Tactics and Tools to Begin, Build, and Sustain Online Communities” to members of the Social Media Health Network at their annual meeting. 

I’m thankful to Lee Aase, director of Mayo Clinic’s Center for Social Media, for the invitation, and enjoyed sharing some valuable tips with this influential group. We followed a short 15-minute format. The presentation focuses on the most important tips for starting and building community. 

I hope you enjoy the Slideshare embedded below and a handful of the tweets the audience shared. 

Private Facebook Group or Branded Online Community?

One of the most frequent questions we are asked when we help our healthcare clients develop online communities is “Why not use a private Facebook group?”

Given the fact that Facebook is “free” and the audience is huge, that’s a great question. Here are eight things you need to consider when choosing your community platform.

Branding and customization

Your organization has invested a lot in its brand online. Owning your own space (e.g. allows you to extend that brand to your community in a robust way and make the user experience your own. Your organization can control the experience from end-to-end. Read more

The Power of Healthcare Online Communities

In the new world of community (population) management, your role as a healthcare marketer will change dramatically.

Your hospital will receive a single payment to care for all the patients in your community. Your goal will be to treat every patient at the least expensive point. And that will mean keeping patients out of the hospital rather than driving them in.

HIPAA-compliant, safe, private online health communities will be one of the powerful tools to help you accomplish these objectives.

Today, even before population management becomes the norm, there are endless opportunities to connect patients with patients, caregivers with caregivers, moms with moms, patients with physicians and physicians with each other. Read more

The Intimate Public: Extending the Benefit of Healthcare’s Online Communities

flickr: kaybee07

Recently, when reading an article by Chelsea Lonsdale in the Slughorne Journal titled The “Intimate Public” of Mommy Blogs, I was reminded of the concept of “the intimate public” first introduced by Lauren Berlant. It’s a helpful concept as you consider how online communities can be used to prevent or manage illness, as well as how to extend the benefit of these online communities to offline patients.

Lonsdale borrowed the phrase “intimate public” from Lauren Berlant’s book The Female Complaint (2008) and related Berlant’s definition of intimate public: “a porous, affective scene of identification among strangers that promises a certain experience of belonging and provides a complex of consolation, confirmation, discipline, and  discussion about how to live as an x.” Read more