Mobile Health Around the Globe: Alliance Health Social Network

July 2, 2012
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Alliance Health Networks is a global social network of condition-specific communities connecting patients world-wide.  Condition-specific sites include Diabetic Connect (the world’s largest online network for those with Diabetes), Obesity Connect, Alzheimer’s Connect, Arthritis Connect, Attention Deficit Connect, Heart Connect, COPD Connect, Back Pain Connect, Chronic Pain Connect, Depression Connect, Epilepsy Connect, Health Exchange, Healthy Skin Connect, Migraine Connect, Mobility Connect, and LifeLong Health (still in Beta) and o

Alliance Health Networks is a global social network of condition-specific communities connecting patients world-wide.  Condition-specific sites include Diabetic Connect (the world’s largest online network for those with Diabetes), Obesity Connect, Alzheimer’s Connect, Arthritis Connect, Attention Deficit Connect, Heart Connect, COPD Connect, Back Pain Connect, Chronic Pain Connect, Depression Connect, Epilepsy Connect, Health Exchange, Healthy Skin Connect, Migraine Connect, Mobility Connect, and LifeLong Health (still in Beta) and others.

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These vertical social networks make conversations valuble because all members have a common condition.  The networks are built on an “anonymous identity” model, which allows users to create profiles that protect their true identities and allow them to comment anonymously at any point in the discussion. This approach fosters deep patient engagement on sensitive subjects and encourages users to openly share useful insights. Helping foster this engagement are badges, status updates, virtual gifts and similar features that help members provide support and encouragement, improving patient outcomes.

The sites look and operate a bit like Facebook with postings and discussions, but here, the talk is focused and more intimate, with the overall goal being to truly become an empowered patient and learn more about the specific condition

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 The sites are extremely interactive and patients tend to be very vocal with each other.  And they’re mobile too…most of the vertical communities are available via iPhone or Android app.

On the sites, qualified individuals are available to answer questions and moderate discussions:

  • Patient Advocates – The most vocal patients many times are contacted by AHN and asked to serve as patient advocates because they are so passionate about vibrant conversations and bringing value to the community
  • Community Managers – full-time AHN employees moderate and monitor ongoing discussion threads.
  • HealthCare Professionals – AHN launched its first doctor-facing platform on DiabeticConnect that enables members to ask questions directly to doctors.  All questions are screened and routed to the appropriate physician based on the nature of the question.  Turn around time is somewhere south of one week.

Alliance Health Networks is a great advocate of the ePatient movement.  Recently, it announced its sponsorship of 35 ePatient scholarships for the 2012 Medicine X conference at the Stanford University School of Medicine. The scholarships, granted by Medicine X, provides the funds needed for these ePatients—highly informed and engaged patients who make significant use of online resources to track and manage their health—to attend the 2012 Medicine X conference in September.

“The ePatient perspective is critical when exploring the new shape of healthcare, and Alliance Health is thrilled to provide the means for these 35 individuals to lend their voices to the conversation,” said Stead Burwell, CEO of Alliance Health Networks. “As a health-based social engagement platform, we know firsthand that people are using social networks to manage their health journey in ways that were never imagined even just a few years ago. We are happy to partner with Stanford Medicine X to help propel this important healthcare discussion forward.”

Applicants for the scholarship had to demonstrate a history of patient engagement, community outreach and advocacy, with a preference given to individuals using emerging technologies such as blogs, Twitter, and social media to pursue these goals. Scholarship recipients will have the opportunity to participate both as attendees and speakers, and will also be given the chance to contribute to a patient-centered design project facilitated by the health and wellness team at the international design firm IDEO.

Scholarship Recipients were chosen by the Medicine X ePatient advisory panel.  Selection was rigorous and identities were blinded.  3 of the scholarship participants were chosen as presenters:

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Sean Ahrens

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Britt J Moody

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Hugo Campos

See their presentation videos here, and see the names and geographic location of all the recipients here.  Or, better yet, attend the Medicine X conference this fall and meet these wonderful people in person!

To read other posts in this exclusive ongoing series, please visit the Mobile Health Around the Globe main page.

And if you have a Mobile Health Around the Globe story to tell, please email me at joan@socialmediatoday.com

 

 

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