The Connected Patient: Information as Currency in Online Communities

August 1, 2014

// By Dan Dunlop //

Dan-Dunlop-2It has been said that the patient is the most underutilized resource in health- care. With the rise of the “connected patient,” clinicians, administrators, and marketers have started to place greater emphasis on patient insights and desires.

Hospitals and health systems, how- ever, have been slow to address the changing needs of the connected patient who increasingly turns to the Internet for answers and support. For more than a decade, patients have turned to listservs, Facebook groups, Twitter chats, and other online communities to fill the void, rather than to hospital-sponsored, patient-support platforms. Despite all the talk of patient engagement within the industry, hospitals and health systems lag far behind the pharmaceutical and managed care industries in developing online support communities.

Paul Speyser is CEO of CareHubs, a company whose software powers online patient communities for healthcare organizations. He identifies three reasons hospitals have been slow to develop online communities:

  1. Executives in these organizations, already stretched thin by the amount of change in the industry, assume they would have to support communities exclusively in-house. They are reluctant to add yet another commitment to their plate.
  2. Many assume that an online community will be prohibitively expensive.
  3. There is a lot of fear and misunderstanding around regulatory issues like HIPAA.

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