When it comes to healthcare, people don’t want to be bombarded with advertising. They want to talk, share, and engage with others who have similar needs. They want a community. A safe place to explore topics, develop friendships, absorb guidance and find information from respected experts.
Peers and experts that dwell within these communities earn our trust through actions and have a significant impact on driving our preferences. Their recommendations don’t come from marketers, they come from real experience and a desire to help. That is a powerful driver!
There are four main types of communities in healthcare. Create a strategy for each.
Long-Term Treatment Support Communities
Long-term treatment support communities form around diseases that are typically ongoing and potentially life-long afflictions such as psoriasis, Huntington’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease. These groups help to address the challenges faced by those who need chronic care. They can also facilitate communication with the medical community and fellow sufferers and support the coordination of care outside of traditional delivery practices.
An excellent example is psoriasisSPEAKS, a patient community forum provided by AbbVie.
These communities focus on a need at a particular time, such as those for people facing cancer, chemotherapy, or ongoing surgeries. Patients seek out these communities when they have fatigued their immediate circle of compassion and they are looking for sympathy, camaraderie, and to be surrounded by others who have experienced the same thing as them. Point-of-need communities elevate the voice of the patient. Patients reach out to these communities because their local community does not understand or have the knowledge about their condition.
Two examples are HysterSisters, which provides hysterectomy support for women and Breast Cancer: A Story Half Told which aims to elevate public understanding of metastatic breast cancer and expand the breast cancer conversation.
Long-Diagnosis Disease Communities
This is when a delayed diagnosis can negatively influence overall disease management and the outcome for patients. By leveraging social media and communities to drive an earlier diagnosis for diseases like Alzheimer’s, AS1, or endometriosis, communities can often change the journey for a patient.
Healthcare Provider Communities
These groups provide ongoing communication about the treatment and management of diseases directly to healthcare providers.
These communities are ideal for diseases that are less common, those that are seeing rapid advances in treatment, or ongoing conditions that are a threat but face waning awareness.
For example, the Johnson & Johnson Diabetes Institute offers continuing education for the disease, since advancements in treatments are rapid and HCPs may have a hard time keeping up.
Make Online Health Communities Work for You:
- Provide education to patients, caregivers or healthcare providers to build an audience.
- Deliver empathy and compassion for patients to build goodwill.
- Assist patients and caregivers in diagnosing conditions earlier to create an audience for your brand.
- Provide information to HCPs and consumers to increase sales.
- Conduct research and create virtual focus groups for insights.
Your ability to have 1-on-1 conversations with patients, caregivers, and HCPs directly correlates to patient loyalty, satisfaction and improved outcomes.