Health Social Networking

Posted by: Catherine Holahan on June 16, 2008

Most social networking sites aren’t exactly serious places. The most popular ones allow friends to post flip messages on each others’ walls or send festive clip art for special occasions.

On Friday, I met a man who is trying to build a social network he believes could save lives. In fact, he credits his social network with saving his own.

When Keith Schorsch contracted Lyme disease in 2004, a dozen doctors failed to recognize the ailment that had paralyzed his facial muscles and sapped his energy. Specialists suggested arthritis, rare viruses, and even brain damage. They offered to operate.

A second opinion from a friend, however, saved him from the potentially fatal consequence of an ill-advised surgery. His friend recognized that Schorsch had Lyme disease after Schorsch described symptoms that matched his friend’s own ailment. His friend also knew that Schorsch had recently been traveling through suburban and rural areas of New Jersey known as “tick country.” “I was on the cusp of late stage Lyme,” says Schorsch. “If it wasn’t for my friend calling…”

Schorsch got more than a correct diagnosis from his friend’s advice. The former Amazon executive also got the idea for Trusera, an online community where users share health information and experiences with once another. The site fully launched earlier today, June 16.

There is no shortage of health sites on the Internet. In addition to medical information sites such as WebMD and Medstory, Google and Microsoft have aggressively moved into the space with their own offerings. Google is creating a central online repository for individuals’ medical records, while Microsoft is building a platform that enables hospitals, medical devices, and other groups to take medical information digital. All are hoping to cash in on the estimated $500 million to $1 billion health advertising market.

Schorsch believes that none of these sites or programs, however, offer the kind of interaction with other people that proved so helpful in his own case.

Talking to Schorsch in person, it’s easy to see why he believes so strongly in the value of information from the average Joe. (Full disclosure: I met him, in part, through my sister who works at the company.) Friends first told him about using acupuncture to handle the muscle paralysis brought on by his disease. He got advice about how to discuss the fatigue he sometimes suffers by chatting with others coping with chronic diseases. Doctors, Schorsch says, often don’t have the time to discuss such things during a brief visit. “10 to 15 years ago you were in an environment where you had the same doctor and he knew you,” says Schorsch. Now, many people don’t have a regular doctor who takes that kind of time, he says.

Even when the experts are available, sometimes a friend can still know best. “Sometimes you just want a direct connection to someone who has gone through it,” he says.

TrackBack URL for this entry: http://blogs.businessweek.com/mt/mt-tb.cgi/

Reader Comments

Merlyn Mencke

June 18, 2008 05:39 PM

There are many Lyme group sites on the web. They can help when doctors will not or can not.
I had to stumble from doctor to doctor for thirty years befor I accidently visited a doctor who had Lyme himself. He knew what was wrong with me right away. We need a Diagnostic
Specialty in our health care system.

Best Travel Websites Guide

June 19, 2008 07:02 AM

Presumably the topic on gadgets collections from Visitthebest was so merit to me. Wished to inform about this site to all of my net friends.

Angela Jenkins

July 16, 2008 11:43 PM

Last year my husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer. After the initial shock we needed others to talk to as this was a whole new unfamiliar world to us. We found nothing at the time that gave us personal interaction with other PC survivors, doctors, advocates, and professionals. In March 2008, we were invited to join The "New" Prostate Cancer Infolink. Here we found the support of others who had been diagnosed, doctors willing to discuss research information with us, and professionals to answer questions. I only wish it had been available to us when we first needed it. Cancer affects your life forever - you don't get rid of it and forget about it. You're always aware. I would recommend this website to every man and woman who knows anyone faced with this disease. The main site has current information updated daily, and the attached social network brings us all together for constructive, support interaction. Check it out.........
www.prostatecancerinfolink.net and the social network is....
www.prostatecancerinfolink.ning.com

Karthe

December 8, 2008 01:10 PM

HealthChapter.com ( http://healthchapter.com ) is a health based social network of people sharing their disease experiences, treatment options, knowledge and giving support to other people suffering from similar health problems.

sam

December 17, 2008 09:19 PM

Launch the internet from a single page and get the most of it, through this website www.visitthebest.com
Idea of this website is to create an ideal homepage for internet users. You will find the most of the stuff you would normally use everyday, right at your desktop. It is packed with useful stuff.
Pick up your favourite search engine…Google, Yahoo, Live search, or use the fantastic encyclopaedias Wikipedia,Answers.com, about.com etc. They all cleverly placed for your convenience.
Get your email (whatever may be) with a single click. If you are keen on News, save your time and directly click the most popular online newspapers links displayed.
It gives best websites guide in various categories. For example if you are looking for best websites for health related information, you would find it through the “a-z category”.
Under “Site of the day” you will see amazing, hard to miss websites that you may not be aware of.
Widget section has lots useful widgets. It is customisable. You pick which one you want to use and delete if you don’t want it anymore.
It makes your life so much easy, if you use this as your homepage. Save time and get the best out of internet. http://www.visitthebest.com

Jason Kania

December 22, 2008 01:34 AM

Wellescent.com is a new free health social networking service that allows members to share their health-related experiences and personal research with others facing similar illnesses, medical treatments, surgeries and medication side-effects. Members and visitors to the site can read about the experiences of others in focused forums and then become online friends with these users communicating via private email and instant messaging.

Donna

January 7, 2009 03:42 AM

Hi there,

Catherine thank you for such informative post. I've just stumbled on http://www.SteadyHealth.com, another great community with a lot of members who supported me and helped me with my condition. I would recommend other people to check there for possible treatments since this community has more then 80,000 members. Good luck!

Brian

January 7, 2009 06:33 PM

You can also check out 100bestsocialnetworksites/health.html for a comprehensive list of health related social network sites. This is a new site and the list is ranked according to web usage stats and so is relatively unbiased.

Mike villegas

April 2, 2009 12:38 PM

Autoimmune Diseases Kits help's in detecting antinuclear antibodies a similar indirect immunofluorescence pattern may be produced by antibodies which correspond to different antigenic specificity. you can also check the links above.

Tina Hill

April 30, 2009 06:21 PM

www.FacetoFaceHealth.com is a new health social networking site. It is designed to connect patients and caregivers one-on-one with others who share similiar health experiences and conditions. Please check it out.

Abdy

November 17, 2009 07:06 AM

I believe in Social Network site for health. Health care cost has sky rocketed. Not that we are looking for cure like we could from the doctor. But at least, people's opinion and experience count. I founded www.MedicalEra.com doing exactly the same thing and I am glad I can offer some help to those who need it.

Post a comment

 

About

BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

Categories

 

BW Mall - Sponsored Links

Buy a link now!