Why is this? What do we care more about than our health or the health of our loved ones? I have talked to our healthcare clients about sites like www.patientslikeme.com and www.rateadrug.com for a while now with a statement following that “this is only the beginning”. According to www.compete.com patientslikeme has about 100k unique visitors per month and grew by over 200% in the past year. rateadrug.com has about 6k unique visitors per month and has grown by over 2400% in the past year.
People with illnesses are scared, information hungry, and they certainly are in need of a support group of others who are sharing a similar experience. This is the perfect formula for the social Web. Take a look at “I’m Too Young For This” (for young people with cancer). I’m directing you to a page they have that lists a set of social networks for people with cancer.
It is early in the evolution and right now the larger potential ”community” is fragmented across many upstart sites (or not yet on the social Web at all) but imagine a few years (probably not many) from now, if there were one site (or less than a handful) for each major illness where everyone who had that illness collaborated in mass. Imagine further if they were able to act as a collective. They could yield tremendous power. Collectively, they could expose the best doctors, hospitals, insurers, pharmaceuticals, government policies, etc. for their specific illness. And the worst ones. And this is only scratching the surface.
IMO, this is a wonderful thing and again, IMO, any health care enterprise not taking the social Web seriously is making a critical error.