When you work in healthcare, it’s just as important to understand what you cannot offer your patients, as it is to know what you can. To build patient volume, you need to have a greater awareness of your patients’ needs in contrast to what you’re able to fulfill. And in the case of providing emotional support to patients, you can indirectly offer your patients empowerment by directing them to online support groups.
So, how does this build patient volume? By increasing patient satisfaction.
It’s proven that online communities benefit patients (some of which may be too sick to leave home) by providing a high level of privacy, intimacy and empowerment in the comfort of their own homes. For patients suffering from rare diseases, it’s possible to connect with others dealing with the same issues.
Healthcare providers should acquaint their patients with the availability of free online support groups as a way to connect their patients with others in similar situations. While it’s important to communicate that online communities should not be used for medical consultation, it’s a great way to meet the emotional needs of your patients.
I thought this NY Times article did a great job of conveying the benefits of online patient communities.
While this is not an exhaustive list, here are patient networks you should become familiar with:
PatientsLikeMe – Patient network for those with life-changing conditions
HealthCentral – Clinical resources and networks based on condition
Inspire – Support groups and recruitment for clinical trials
CureTogether – Peer connections and progress tracking
Alliance Health – Portal for a variety for social health networks
Disaboom – Social network for those living with disabilities
Ning – A general social networking site, but patients can find and create their own support networks on a topical basis