Health Social Networksexternal image CarePagesLogo_RGB.jpg


A Health Social Network (HSN) is an networks of people over the Internet that come together for the purpose of supporting each other. CarePages.com and DailyStrength.org are both examples of HSNs. These websites are similar to other social networking sites, such as Facebook and MySpace that focus on meeting new people, but instead is for people that are looking for support groups of people with similar illnesses as their own or they have family members that are sick and are looking for a way to cope.

When an ill person signs up for an HSN they are typically given their own personal page on the site. It contains pictures of themselves, basic personal history, and a blog. Friends and family can also sign up for the site and send messages, look at recent pictures, read their blog, and possibly have flowers or a gift basket sent through the mail. This allows for the ill patient to relay messages to all of their friends and family all at once. You're also able to engage in conversation with other users via private messages or discussion boards. They can ask questions, organize a support group meeting, share stories about surviving their affliction, and more. CarePages also gives advice to the afflicted, as well as for their friends and family to help them get through this tough time in their lives.

HSNs are getting more and more popular as the word gets out about them. Currently, DailyStrength services over 400,000 users a month in over 600 support groups, as well as information on over 3,000 different treatments.

Many health clinics are directly telling their patients about certain HSNs. Some are even going so far as to place kiosks in the building for visitors to leave messages for patients on the HSN profile before, during and after treatment.

Applications
The road to recovery, or possibly beating a sickness, is a difficult one. Many people can lose hope if they are alone during their ordeal, and losing hope can lead to further deprecation of their situation, and if their illness is fatal, a more rapid death can happen. Giving people the opportunity to get support on their own is a large step on that road towards recovery and can do loads to help people in the short term, in addition to the long term. Some HSNs are even taking the initiative to improve their users overall health and not just what they are in a support group for. One site has done global reminders for flu shots during the season in hopes to get more people to get immunized. Actions like this can help prevent further illnesses and diseases.

Here is an example of a typical DailyStrength user profile:

DS.jpg


Web Resources
http://dailystrength.org/http://www.carepages.com/
http://www.montegonet.com/kiosks101/carepages.html
http://www.prweb.com/releases/2008/01/prweb661844.htm

Related Terminology

Social Networking
Support Groups
Web 2.0