A Community Model That Delivers — For Patients and Partners

Contributed by:

Tim Armand, President and Co-Founder, Health Union

NOTE: The content below contains the first few paragraphs of the printed article and the titles of the sidebars and boxes, if applicable.

When people living with chronic health conditions think of the resources they need throughout their journeys, HCPs, treatments and care teams often top the list. However, nobody understands the pain, fatigue and frustration better than others who live with these conditions, making the need for information, validation and connection especially strong among patients and their caregivers.

Over the past eight years, Health Union’s condition-specific online health communities have addressed this need — providing an invaluable tool for patients and caregivers to come together. Valuable and relevant content, delivered daily, encourages social interactions in a flexible format (online or via social) that evolve into meaningful health conversations. These interactions create countless opportunities for engagement both among patients and with healthcare companies designing treatments and solutions that improve care.

It’s important to note that successful and impactful communities are not simply a result of building a website and some social channels. They require careful curation, active listening and a focus on “meeting people where they are” rather than driving behavior change. Furthermore, they must truly serve people’s needs, embrace open dialogue and actively pay attention to patient perspectives.

For example, Health Union’s 19 (and counting) open, chronic condition-specific communities actively bring people impacted by these conditions together through daily, relevant content that generates connections. Reach and engagement are then amplified through active, moderated discussions within each community’s social channels. Annual “In America” surveys for each community provide a more comprehensive understanding of patients’ specific wants and needs, which further fuels the content and conversations.

Community Conversations

Perhaps one of Health Union’s many community contributors said it best, “Having a community that can truly and honestly relate to you is just as important as finding an effective treatment because your mental and emotional health is extremely important in this journey.”

This continuous cultivation of online health communities makes it easy for partners to understand, reach and engage the right patients at large scale, which ultimately leads to the development of smarter, more effective consumer- and patient-focused programs for biopharma partners.

Specifically, these communities — and the relationships they foster — allow partners to participate directly in conversations to which they would otherwise not have access, associate their brands with desired, relevant content and integrate qualitative and quantitative insights into marketing plans.

Additionally, due to the deep understanding of people’s needs that comes from being immersed with these online communities every day, Health Union can work closely with partners to leverage the appropriate context for brand considerations. For example, with newly approved calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) drugs gaining serious attention in the migraine community and, as a result, significant content about these treatments on Migraine.com, CGRP brands can align with this content, either directly or indirectly, generating awareness and credibility with their desired audiences.

Connecting Communities

Moreover, communities that truly pay attention to people’s needs have a treasure trove of insights and knowledge about trends in patients’ experiences and market landscape. For example, the shared experiences of people with different types of blood cancers, led to the creation of Blood-Cancer.com. By addressing the commonalities of the conditions, we observe that people feel more connected; thereby making the community more valuable to those impacted.

The reality is that biopharmaceutical company partners may not focus on integrating the patient perspective into their programs and campaigns until a specific need arises. With the continuous cultivation of these communities that generate ongoing engagement, interaction and conversation, trends and new information about needs, wants, attitudes and behaviors are always emerging.
As a result, biopharmaceutical company partners are presented with an opportunity to truly understand patients’ perspective — at any juncture — to guide short- and long-term planning that will set them up for success. (PV)


Health Union inspires people to live better with specific health conditions. Its unique approach combines new daily, original content with digital, social and mobile technologies to cultivate active, engaged online communities. More than a digital publisher, Health Union builds real relationships with people and develops deep expertise in the markets it serves.
For more information, visit health-union.com.

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