By Guest blogger Michael Dornan

As a psoriasis sufferer, I know first hand how hard it can be to deal with an illness, without that all essential support from people who truly understand. After spending years managing my condition alone, I turned to the Internet for help. I found a sheer number of forums, blogs, and communities, in which psoriasis was discussed, but I didn’t find it to be a personal experience.

Psoriasis Social, the initial platform that paved the way for Social Medicine, demonstrated that patients understood what a social network for their condition offered over forums and other sites. Psoriasis Social took off with a speed that surprised me. In a short period of time more than 1000 people globally, registered and became friends. My simple goal was to give psoriasis sufferers a voice, a sounding board, and a close-knit and supportive community for people who understood, what it was like to live with the condition. Soon Social Medicine was born, a platform for those who suffer from a range of illnesses and conditions, now have a community driven support network, and an avenue for organisations who may like to reach out to people via this platform or support its development.

Social Medicine opens the doors for patients that were not previously made available. Patients now have the opportunity for:

  • Instant two way communication to help bring patients closer
  • Supportive communities through enhanced functionality
  • Friend circles to allow patients to connect and bond with others globally

In simple terms, Social Medicine (Social-medicine.org) is a health based social networking site, it helps people suffering from a variety of health conditions, to globally connect, help and share information with others in similar situations, by focusing on bridging the gap of patient-to-patient communication, and patient-to-practitioner communication, with all the social networking features and functionality expected in today’s society.

Social Medicine fosters community support, where real people in similar situations come together, to circumvent negative feelings like disconnection and loneliness, and focus on improving self-esteem, understanding, communication, relationships, and peer support.

Social Medicine’s online health communities does not have any geographical boundaries; anonymity from stigmatizing, embarrassing, and sensitive issues; increasing self-disclosure; and encouraging honesty. At times the anonymity of online communities may facilitate the participation of certain people, who may be culturally and socially conditioned not to ask for help and support.

Why are patients turning to the web for information? There are increasing demands of consumer driven health content. It is seen that 48% of people with cancer reported that they had insufficient information provided by their physicians, while 20% were not satisfied with the information given and 39% of women with breast cancer indicated that they wished that they had help with knowing what questions to ask. However, dissatisfaction with information provided is not the only reason why patients turn to the Internet.

Social Medicine aims to better understand how people are connecting and sharing information about their medical conditions, the various treatments and products they are using. As communication on medical conditions is already undertaken in forums to some extent, these forums are now falling behind in functionality that would significantly improve patient’s experiences if communication was shared on social networking platforms.

There is a great need for more information. Patients want to know what other patients have done, used or experienced with their condition. The provision of information provided to patients has been shown to help them gain control, reduce anxiety, create realistic expectations, promote self-care and participation, and generate feelings of safety and security. The satisfaction with information provided has been shown to correlate with quality of life. People, who feel satisfied with the adequacy of information given, are more likely to feel happy with their level of participation and in the overall process of decision-making.

About Michael Dornan

Michael Dornan is a passionate IT executive, who suffers from a condition, saw there was more that could be done to connect patients and built a site that intends to globally connect and help people.

As a patient and a sufferer with Psoriasis, one of the first things Michael did was head straight to the Internet to find the latest treatment on my incurable disease. Michael searched blogs and forums, and saw the information found was very informative, as the content written was by real Psoriasis sufferers. However, Michael found that it was missing a key component, real time discussion between other patients. This unique method of communication led him to create Psoriasis Social, a social networking site for sufferers, family and friends to connect and share information globally, a site that was much needed and in high demand for people with psoriasis suffers.

Having worked in IT for the past 15+ years, 10+ in senior management positions, Michael has great technical understanding of what it takes to deliver great IT solutions to small and large businesses, being part of health Not For profits and on the board of Psoriasis Asia Pacific he has a keen interest in seeing people become empowered about their health concerns.

Michael Dornan - DrVMichael Dornan

T: +61431174896

E: michael.dornan@social-medicine.org

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/michaeldornan

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/michaeldornan

Cell Phone: +61431174896

– See more at: https://www.drveronica.com/society/can-social-networking-improve-health-part-i.php#sthash.7FJcJiTn.dpuf