Recently, Health 2.0 reported that 34 percent of Americans turn to social media for health research. Their information, based upon an iCrossing report, shows that consumers choose Wikipedia, online forums and message boards as their most favored resources for information. Additionally, while these users are looking for answers, they also seek support and interaction.
Interaction is what makes social media a bit different than Web 2.0. While Web 2.0 provides the tools for interaction between a user and a Web site, it may not provide the interaction required for a true “social” experience between the user and other users or site participants. For instance, teens and some adults who have disabilities and diseases such as cancer already use social-networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace.com to connect with peers.
Social media is not “top down” information with little to no interaction. While government groups struggle to impart information such as the latest news about tainted peanut butter products through blogs, Twitter and other Web 2.0 tools, others know that this isn’t enough. When you impart information, you also must respond. It is the era of the consumer, and the consumer is in control.
While some government groups still struggle with social interaction, many grassroots groups and visionaries ‘get it.’ The following 25 sites — among many dozens of other consumer-oriented social media sites — provide venues for patients, advocates, medical personnel, and others to interact on a level playing field. These tools allow news to flow freely, collaboration to become second-nature and support to become as pandemic as the diseases that threaten today’s populations.
The following sites are listed alphabetically under each category. This methodology shows that we do not favor one site over another.
News and Information
Instead of top-down news and information, these sites provide information based upon user-generated input. You can read the latest news about any medical condition or offer and receive support and advice at these sites.
- Healthranker: Health Ranker was founded by Israel Lagares and the main contributor to this health news site is Dr. Kalvin Chinyere. Both men are dedicated to making Healthranker the number one social media health news site. Its success depends upon you, however, as users are encourages to submit health news and articles from medical information publishers to health care bloggers to main stream media news sites.
- OrganizedWisdom: This site launched in 2006, and has become a keystone social media site for health information. Organized Wisdom provides hand-crafted search result pages called WisdomCards for the most popular health search terms and phrases. Users can become guides and make money while helping others find information on this site and to create WisdomCards. OrganizedWisdom was named to PC Magazines “Top Web sites of 2008″ for bringing innovation to online health care.
- PeoplesMD: PeoplesMD is the first niche social bookmarking site exclusively for the health and wellness category. Share your online health research and help others when you bookmark your favorite articles, blogs and Web sites and store them here in “Stacks.” These bookmarks are turned into visual collections for your own use and to help others find information.
- Trusera: Seattle startup Trusera built a strong community while in testing mode in 2008, and founder Keith Schorsch says his site is more focused on practical advice than the competition. Schorsch, a former Amazon executive, says he was spurred to start the company after his struggle with Lyme disease. At Trusera, you can pose questions to people who’ve been there and get practical answers and insights from others just like you.
Plenty of sites offer tools for fitness, but the true test of a social media fitness site is interaction among users and experts. The following sites can provide this support, along with the tools you need to meet your fitness goals.
- FitLink: Keep a workout journal, map running or cycling routes, plan activities, research exercises, calculate your body mass index, and read fitness articles. But, you don’t need to do it alone. You also can find activity partners, training groups, personal trainers, health clubs, fitness centers and even local events based upon your goals and interests.
- GIMME20: Gimme20.com is an online fitness tool that provides users with community, workout routines, and the ability to track workouts and share workout routines with others in the community. You can report fitness results from the gym with their mobile phones, too.
- GymClik: This site is new, but looks promising. Join for free and get in on the ground floor to develop or join groups in tune with your goals. Additionally, you can add your favorite recipes, find a local trainer, share videos and images and more.
- Gyminee: You’ll discover detailed workout tracking, a way to monitor your diet, the ability to meet others with similar goals, online accountability and motivation through friends, groups and communities at Gyminee. This interaction may be what you need to reach your goals.
- introPLAY: Join as a player and find other athletes who train together as part of the introPLAY community. This site may seem intimidating, but it’s for both casual and committed athletes who want tools to track sports activities, health information and more from a truly interactive community.
- iStats: After you complete a workout such as a run, gym, soccer game or training simply enter the details of the workout (reps, weight, time etc.). Select from Imperial or Metric. Create your own exercise if you can’t find it. Review your workouts and invite friends to create exercise teams so you can work out together, share tips and compare results.
- Limeade: This tool allows you to assess 28 dimensions of your life scientifically correlated with well-being, recommends personalized goals, and helps you achieve those goals with step-by-step tracking, programs and support from experts and friends.
- PeerTrainer: This site will help you become accountable for yourself, supported by others in small online groups and teams. Take advantage of their Calorie Wiki, health, fitness and diet content and more. Join supportive communities and groups and share your wisdom as well.
- Traineo: Get in on the ground floor with a site that is geared to make fitness simple. Use their tools to log your activity and diet and take advantage of community-building to snag some support for your goals. Choose among groups that challenge obstacles such as diabetes or that are built upon family support. If nothing seems to fit you, you can create your own group.
Patient Activism, Peer Care
The following sites provide users with real-time social interaction. You can receive home care, find a peer group for support, become an activist in national health care reform and more. These sites truly are social, providing ‘meeting places’ for patients, medical professionals and visionaries.
- American Well: This is the nation’s first online house call program. This site provides a truly interactive setting, where patients find doctors who will treat you from a distance. American Well is committed to supporting health plans in meeting consumer and employer demand for affordable, efficient, and immediate access to quality care.
- Daily Strength: Patients and caregivers dealing with hundreds of issues, including asthma, celiac disease and depression, can join a support community, start a wellness journal, share advice and recommend doctors, link to news stories and Web sites with disease information. You can send other members a virtual hug while you’re there.
- Group Loop: Group Loop bills itself as a safe place for teens with cancer and their parents to build online community for support, education and hope while dealing with a cancer diagnosis. Teens can talk with other teens, parents with parents so teens can learn how to cope with daily life and this disease.
- Health 2.0: This wiki is set up to serve “the community of visionaries, entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, policy makers, and professionals who are working on fundamentally redefining the healthcare industry along the lines of ‘Web 2.0.’” Don’t let the labels turn you off — this site is open for discussion. Take the challenge.
- Mamaherb: At Mamaherb, people from all over the world can share their knowledge about herbs and other natural substances they’ve experienced as helpful, or even been tipped off about by their family members, friends, or even by their grandma. Join community to learn more about how you can use herbs safely.
- MDJunction: This site supports an active center for online support groups, a place where patients meet every day to discuss feelings, ask questions and share hopes with others.
- Patients Like Me: This site believes that when patients share real-world data, collaboration on a global scale becomes possible. New treatments become possible. Most importantly, change becomes possible. A truly interactive site, it appears that patients embrace the open sharing of personal health data because they believe that information can change the course of their diseases.
- Real Mental Health: This was the first social networking site that focused on mental health treatment and wellness. Join online communities filled with individuals, families, loved ones and friends who want to interact and support each other through difficult and happy times. Obtain knowledge about symptoms and treatments, too, in topics such as addictions, ADHD, Alzheimer’s and more.
- Real Self: Sometimes it takes a little nip and tuck to feel better. At Real Self, you will find comprehensive information about everything from Botox to Lasik to Zoom teeth whitening. Founded by Tom Seery in 2006, this site provides experts, many who are leading authorities in aesthetics, cosmetic surgery and dermatology, to participate on RealSelf.com without a commercial relationship or exchange of fees. Ask a question, get an answer. Easy.
- RightHealth: Join active forums, get the latest mash-ups of medical news and watch the latest health videos. This site is fairly straightforward, easy to use and dedicated to giving every topic its own homepage.
- Twit2Fit: If you want results and activism, choose Twitter to get going. Jason Falls experimented with Twitter to see how far he’d get in support for a fitness program, and his test blossomed into this Web site. “Twit2Fit members support and encourage those hoping to better themselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.”
- Vitals: Vitals represents a place where doctors are examined. Unlike other listings for medical professionals, this one allows users to chime in. You can check up on your doctor, find a new doctor and rate doctors that you know and have visited in the past. Your opinions could, literally, save a life.