Australia | Published on: November 7, 2011
Social media pitch
All too often, the social side of illnesses go ignored. Technology and social media can help bridge this gap.
We have never been able to capture how people deal with their health conditions at a social level. Current technology and platforms, such as forums, have struggled to do so, as messages left on form sites are so sporadic. Social Medicine believes social networking can assist people on a global scale, as the site has dedicated disease and illness communities, allowing people to all over the world to connect, discuss and share health information.

The Evolvement of Social Networking

Social networking plays a huge role in shaping the interactive world of Health 2.0. Health 2.0 is defined as a dynamic means of communicating with people globally, and has evolved from an information gathering tool. Health related social networking sites aim to give disease and illness suffers a voice, and brings people together on a global scale, to connect, discuss and share information about their medical conditions.

Social Networking Mediums

Mediums like Wikipedia are common for researching health conditions, while online health forums are common for self-education. Social networking sites on the other hand, have many people interested. This new world of socialising online, gives disease and illness sufferers many opportunities to communicate with others such as: medical blogs, live health chat, wikis, videos and much more. These days, it is uncommon for people who have not heard of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. However, there are a lot of people who have not heard of health related social networking sites. These sites are engaging, empowering and educating disease and illness sufferers.


Health related social networking provides much more functionality than forums. It provides extra features common to other general social networking sites that people expect to use to receive instant information.


Computer savvy illness sufferers use many forms of online communication, and these range from e-mail, medical blogs, live health chat, wikis and other collaborative technologies. These platforms can help elevate overworked health centres, which often people avoid as they are just that, busy and overworked. This is not to say that illness sufferers should not visit their health centre or medical practitioners, ideally it would be the first port of call, but it’s not anymore, it’s the internet; so we need platforms that can bridge the gap between illness sufferers and socialists.


Online health communities can offer great benefits to disease and illness sufferers. Given all the socializing and psychological support provided by others within health communities, health outcomes are said to improve. People within online communities also have access to many discussion groups, specifically chosen by the individual, where they can access, create and share relevant information.

Struggling With Communication

When people directly engage with others and have a face-to-face conversation, either with their medical practitioner or with someone who suffers from a similar condition, they can find it difficult and overwhelming to openly talk openly about their condition. Social networking can assist with the difficulties found when directly talking about their conditions to others. Individuals, who social network, can be anonymous or as open in providing and seeking advice on many trials and tribulations, be of a sufferer, practitioner, family member or friend.

High Demand In Consumer Content

Health related content written by real people, suffering from medical conditions, are increasing in both supply and demand. However, this could be dangerous if the information is not professional and incorrect, but it’s unavoidable with the many forums and social networking pages appearing online already. People suffering with an illness or disease, turn to social networking sites for information and tend to search for:

  1. Remedies, products, treatments and their cost
  2. What has/ hasn’t worked for others
  3. The reputation of certain products and practitioners

Real people suffering from disease and illnesses write the content seen on these sites, and other illness sufferers see this information as a favourable source.

Concerns Addressed

As health related social networking sites become more popular in our modern day life, some people believe that the dangers are more pressing than any benefits of health related social networking sites. It can be seen that the hours per day of face-to-face communication have declined, as the use of social networking has increased. People who use these sites frequently are prone to social isolation. However this isn’t the case with communities found within social networking sites. People within social networking communities seek for comfort and support from others found within the communities.


With social networking, privacy plays a critical role. The concerns raised on providing too much personal information is countered on health related social networking sites, as people have the choice to provide as little or as much personal information as they are comfortable in sharing.

Identify Theft

Identity theft is a common concern with social networking. Every profile requires people to share some personal information including their disease, illness or symptoms. If people share too much information, they become concerned about their identity. However, if people don't share any information, it defeats the purpose of socializing online and connecting with other people or illness sufferers.


Given the immense activity seen in social networking sites, it can be seen that honesty is taken at face value, where accomplishments, photos and updates cannot be fully verified. Within the world of social networking, there are no system fact checkers.

Comparing Social Networking Sites

Social networking sites that are directly related to patients to patient discussion around medical conditions, or have health communities embedded within their platforms, are rare to find. However, this new arena will soon become mainstream, as the need for sharing information relating to medical conditions is increasing. Social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter have taken off and have become a part of our everyday life. Facebook and Twitter connect us to our friends, while LinkedIn connects us to our professional colleagues. However what site connects us to our health?

Medical Social Networking Sites For Doctors…

  • This forum based platform is a great place for doctors to go and meet other doctors, medical students, and residents from around the world, sharing hobbies and interests, look for long lasting connections or establish new professional contacts. Doctors exchange clinical experiences, review cases and share clinical knowledge. However, this site does not provide the usual social networking features such as creating profiles, uploading pictures etc. 
  • Allows doctors to research symptoms, get additionally opinions and connect with other doctors. Registered member have written over 10,000 articles and answered more than 30,000 medical questions, within the blogs and forums. The site allows for medical journals and conference events to be listed.
  • Aimed at doctors and medical students, this forum based platform allows for downloading lecture notes, watching videos and more. On the site, medical students are able to connect with doctors from around the world, and share knowledge. Doctors register by using their GMC registration details and students register by providing details of their medical school and course. This site is the most active network of GMC authenticated doctors in the UK and is a trusted channel for information, communication and education, used by more than 40,000 doctors every day.

Medical Social Networking Sites For Nurses…

  • On this blog-based platform, nurses come together to get answers to questions asked by other nurses, and find out about news, specialties and careers. This site is more of an information discussion by nurses.
  • Connect with other nurses globally and find networking opportunities. The site promotes nursing news, jobs, nurse continuing education and a thriving nurse community.
  • This social community of nurses enables nurses to read reviews, connecting with other nurses, to advance careers, and participate in conversations, sharing stories. The site promotes finding friends and former nurse colleagues, networking to a new nursing job, rate and review top hospitals and schools, get nursing career advice and tips, and catching up on the latest nursing topics.

Medical Social Networking Sites For Illness Sufferers …

  • This forum based platform, allows registered users to comment on posts and network with those working in the health sector.
  • This forum based platform allows illness sufferers to all value on illness specified blogs, and can ask questions, share knowledge, find support and even get career help.
  • You can use this social media site to connect with people from all different medical and health fields. Great opportunities to learn more, share your knowledge and meet new friends from a variety of locations.

The Winner …

  • is putting the social back into all things medical. Designed to help individuals dealing with particular illnesses, help share their thoughts, experiences, and knowledge with others who experience the same condition. It is designed to be a social, fun and a relaxed way to learn and share information. Its emphasis is on connecting people and has all the social networking features and functionality expected. is differentiated from the other medical social networking sites as it primarily focuses on illness sufferers within the health communities. The above social networking sites offer most social networking functionality, however these sites don’t support communities for illness sufferers and are seen to be more profession driven rather than focusing on the ill.

Sites like are a good example of the online medical revolution, dedicated to health related social networks. is an online social meeting point for people with similar medical conditions, allowing them to consult with one another, to learn from and to share their experiences with others. empowers people with medical conditions to take an active role in managing their condition in conjunction with the opportunity for social interaction with other people found within their community. The site’s purpose is to help people improve their lives and enable them to make informed choices, to better cope with the challenges of their illness. does not advocate self-diagnosis or bypassing doctors and medical professionals; it purely takes forums into the social network world. The site’s purpose is to help people improve their lives and enable them to make informed choices, to better cope with the challenges of their illness.

For more information on, please visit the about page and a see YouTube.
As a psoriasis sufferer I know first-hand how hard it can be to deal with an illness without that all-essential support from people who truly understand. After spending years managing my condition alone, I turned to the Internet for help. The sheer number of forums, blogs, and communities out there in which psoriasis was discussed by fellow sufferers was astonishing.

— Michael Dornan
My simple goal was to give my illness and other illness sufferers a voice, a sounding-board, and a close-knit, supportive community of people, who understand what it was like to live with the condition.

— Michael Dornan
I truly hope you find my story and the site interesting and are compelled to help me make other illness sufferers aware of

— Michael Dornan