People living with chronic conditions want to exchange information with others in similar situations. But they want to do more than just share knowledge; they also want social connection and support.
According to co-founder and CEO Eric Peacock, the majority of existing patient community sites…
- Follow the outdated model of web 1.0 forums
- Are anonymous and fail to foster genuine human connection
- Are too focused on experimental drugs and gathering patients’ data
- Do not meet patients’ real needs – as Eric learned by interviewing over 100 chronic disease patients
These insights led Eric to co-found MyHealthTeams, a company that builds friendly, relationship-based patient communities that focus on modern social networking. Eric explains the distinct need that his company fills: “We’re not doctors, we’re internet folks, but we believe that when you’re diagnosed with MS or Lupus, it should be easy to find folks to help you.”
That is exactly what MyHealthTeams does. Communities are based around individual diseases. So far, Eric and his team have built thriving, engaged communities for MS, Breast Cancer, and Crohn’s patients, as well as parents of children on the Autism spectrum. The sites are exclusive to those living with a given disease – they are not open to doctors or researchers.
Combined, MyHealthTeams’ sites have over 80,000 users. The sites’ growth is driven by human connection. Eric explains that finding social support is particularly crucial – and particularly challenging – for those living with chronic disease: “If you have a child with autism, you can imagine that 99% of people you interact with don’t understand that. What these parents long for, and what people with MS, Crohns, and Lupus long for is being understood.”
The site offers multiple avenues for patients to find support and mutual understanding:
- Rich Profiles
- Patients share personal stories, engage in deep conversations, and form real friendships.
- The site helps users find others who are similar to them, as shown below (second picture).
- Learn about providers
- MyHealthTeams offers a Yelp-like ability to find health providers and see whether other patients have recommend a given practitioner
- Pin-board for pictures
- Patients can share pictures to express their personal interests and engage in ways that go beyond their illness.
- Q and A
- Patients can ask medical and nonmedical questions of their peers. The site’s 97% response rate speaks to the real level of engagement the communities have achieved.
Eric and the team are looking for ways to get members of their sites greater access to clinical researchplan to incorporate a clinical trial search engine/information system into the site, after learning that 85% of users would like help finding suitable clinical trials. Further, the team recently launched a new community for Crohn’s. Six weeks after launch, it has attracted over 1,500 users. This shows the extent to which this service meets a real patient need. MyLupusTeam is in the works and will launch this summer.
Summarizing the mission of the company, Eric said, “Autoimmune diseases and chronic conditions are woefully underserved. We hope to build a social network site for every one of them.”
Which autoimmune community do you think they should they build after Lupus?