CarePages, a similar health-focused social network that launched in 2000, does accept advertisements.
Both “provide a good service in that they enable the loved ones or caregiver to update the site once to tell a lot of people who care what’s going on,” says Lee Aase, director of the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Social Media.
“It really does help relieve a burden” of constantly having to call or text, he says.
Thirty years ago, patients would come to Mayo Clinic for a few days of tests or hospitalization, and they or accompanying family members would go to their hotel room to call friends and family with updates.
Twenty years ago, as cell phones became more prevalents, that was the key update method.
In both scenarios, the calls involved repeating a lot of the same information, and added some stress to an already challenging situation.
Then Caring Bridge came along to make it possible for the patient to update a Web site and share news with family and friends once instead of through multiple calls. CarePages began offering a similar service a few years later.
Now patients have even more options, such as a closed or secret Facebook group among them, for sharing news with their loved ones. But still, many patients find these specialized services attractive because they may not want medical information connected to their Facebook.
So if you think social networking in health care is new or radical, Caring Bridge and CarePages both have more than 10 years experience serving patients and their families that suggest otherwise.