A Vision to Redefine Social Health

30 June 2021

FiercePharma

Two companies - with one mission - unite to double down on patients as the future of social health.

Health Union and WEGO Health are no strangers to social media. Both companies have been disrupting the space for over a decade with an army of dedicated patient advocates and influencers leading the charge.

With Health Union’s acquisition of WEGO Health, these once-competitors have joined forces to elevate the patient voice.

By combining the power of patient advocates and influencers, who have proven to impact health behaviors, with scalable online health communities that meet people where they are at any point in their health journey, the new Health Union will redefine how the healthcare industry thinks of social health.

What is social health?

“When we think of social health, we often think of social media, however social health is bigger than social media. Social health is the connection, community, and socialization of patients across the entire social-sphere including communities, groups, messaging, video and audio.” - [Olivier Chateau, CEO Health Union]

In today’s hyper-connected digital world, patients move seamlessly from patient communities to social media platforms to peer-to-peer communications to engaging a healthcare professional to digital content and conversation. All health is social - and that change is permanent.

The patient journey is not linear; neither is the social journey.

“At Health Union, we have learned that as a patient’s journey evolves so does their level of advocacy. In the early stages of diagnosis, patients often begin as consumers of information and over time evolve to become sharers. The methods for consumption and sharing also evolve over time and are not mirror images of one another.” - [Amrita Bhowmick, Chief Community Officer, Health Union]

Recent WEGO Health research proves this point, with 93% of patient influencers - compared to just 64% of non-influencers - sharing some to all relevant health information they receive with others.

The health moments that matter are social. 

Patients today rely on social interactions to discover, connect, validate, and share. Their stories are unique to their personal experiences, but the inflection points along the journey share common threads.

According to WEGO Health research, 79% of patients look to social to answer specific questions about their own personal experiences. After a doctor visit, 76% use social to ask other people about their experiences with medication, conditions, and diagnoses.

Real-world patient experiences and peer to peer advice serve as important checks and balances, filling in gaps after a TV ad campaign or an all-too-short physician interaction.

Patient communities play a critical role.

Online health communities are trusted by patients. They provide information and connection, as well as the support patients need to take ownership of their health.

A Health Union study revealed 58% of analyzed comments within the Facebook pages of its communities represented expressions of social support for others, demonstrated through information-sharing, expressions of empathy and encouragement to others. In fact, one participant commented, “there’s many days when these posts remind me I’m not the only one having to deal with these same issues.”

Patients trust other patients.

After medical professionals and healthcare systems, patients ranked online health publishers and patient online community leaders as their most trusted sources of health information. 

In fact, Health Union survey findings show that 87% of people living with chronic conditions who asked questions online were seeking input from other patients.

“We’re being completely open about our journeys, the good, the bad and the ugly, and that makes us trustworthy.” - Trishna Bharadia, MS Patient Leader

Patient Leaders drive behavior.

Given the high level of trust that patients place in patient advocates and influencers, it’s no surprise that these patient leaders also drive patient behavior.

In further WEGO Health research, patient respondents shared that when someone that they consider to be influential shares information about a specific medication, nine in 10 will ask their doctor about that information. Beyond that, nine in 10 will also continue sharing it with others they believe to be interested.

Patient advocates and influencers, both within and outside of patient communities, motivate their communities to take meaningful action.

Putting the power of social health into practice.

Online health communities and patient influencers, working in tandem, serve as a critical information and support system along every step of the patient journey. For pharmaceutical and healthcare marketers, patient communities and their leaders present a strategic opportunity to support a full-funnel marketing approach.

Our newly expanded team at Health Union offers the depth and breadth across patient advocates, online communities and social avenues to offer brands a cohesive source for all of their patient-focused social marketing needs.

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