Revisiting Health Social Networking and Communities with

I got to revisit this topic with the person behind (or in front of the easy-to-remember) URL, Brian Loew, the CEO of

I visited this the first time in May, 2008, when Brian and VP for Partnerships Amir Lewkowicz and I went for a short walk to talk about Inspire.

And I have to take a short break here to celebrate having a blog, that allows someone like me to remember when they last looked at something…

Back to the story, Brian offered me the opportunity to walk somewhere to meet him and go for a walking meeting while in Washington (well, I offered the walk to him). Again, twist my arm. And I’m glad I did. It has been a (short) while since I have been looking at the state of online communities for health. This could be because the last bit of excitement around these occurred around Health 2.0 this spring.

What hasn’t changed for me though, is the interest in supporting social networking in the empowerment/engagement of patients managing their health, so I was grateful for the update. has redesigned their site, and moved away from organization that is by health condition and more person-focused with the idea that someone will have multiple health interests depending on themselves and their families.

As I mentioned previously, Inspire has an interest in supporting clinical trials, and serves as an intermediary between consumer/patient organizations and pharmaceutical manufacturers looking to recruit interested patients who opt-in to trials in a privacy protected way.

What I am especially interested in the work I am doing the presence of a platform that could serve a diversity of health interests depending on the focus of, say, an employer group, a provider group, or a patient group. I have found a small hypertension community on Inspire, and joined it. It nicely allows me to indicate that I am there as a health professional/interested person rather than a patient with hypertension (at least not one, yet).

Near the end of our walk, Brian asked me an interesting question as we talked about how much patients think of their conditions throughout the day. He asked, “What would you think if you knew that I had a chronic condition?” My answer – that I would have a lot of respect for that person and pay close attention to their experience. I want to learn as much about people and the ways they encounter their health outside medical centers. I think other health care providers do, too, and I hope health communities can help teach as much as they learn.

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Ted Eytan, MD