Online Community Management Best Practice: Managing Supportive and Engaged Online Patient Communities

Rin Gomura Elkan rin@socialcode.io
Siobhan Bulfin siobhan@socialcode.io

Abstract

How do you nurture relationships amongst patients and providers online? How do you encourage one-to-one and one-to-many conversations? The aim of this tutorial is to guide participants through best practices in online community management, using examples from real online patient communities. This tutorial is suitable for online community managers, both new to, and experienced with, social networks in health. Participants will learn practical ways to increase patient engagement for improved health outcomes. The tutorial will also cover the value of extending the clinicians reach beyond the physical setting and engaging with patients in the comfort of their home. It will also show how patient communities can improve medication adherence and care-plan compliance.

Significance

Online patient communities are becoming increasingly vital in the patient care landscape. Not only do they fulfil the need for social cohesion and acceptance, they provide peer support to patients who would otherwise be isolated geographically. Many communities now include participation by healthcare providers, extending their reach beyond the clinical setting. The role of the community manager is to facilitate discussions and relationships which empower the community. They also share the responsibility of monitoring conversations and moderating where necessary.

Tutorial Format

This tutorial will utilize real case studies from MyViva, our online patient community for people living with auto-immune diseases, as well as several of our other active online patient communities, spanning various chronic diseases and behaviors, including smoking cessation and alcohol abuse. Each community is unique in the way members support each other to achieve health goals. We will share and discuss real life examples in an interactive format encouraging active participation.

Healthcare practitioners and professional advice are an integral part of Social Code’s online patient communities. Examples of how healthcare practitioners have provided advice and support in a personal, timely manner via the social network will also be demonstrated.

We will also review intrinsic motivators which have increased community engagement and triggered behavior change.

Participants will take away useful insights for which to implement in their online patient communities to achieve higher community engagement.

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