The huge amount of information being shared on communities of people with the same health concerns is valuable to researchers looking for treatments.

As people with chronic health conditions find others with similar experiences online, these new communities are vetting and testing condition-specific treatments and sharing the results with one other. They are not only valuable to their members, but to doctors and researchers as well, who can delve into the large amounts of voluntary health data created by these groups.

As part of the Future of Health report from PSFK Labs, we are watching the rise of Social Support Communities that share treatment advice and emotional support. Eventually these communities have the potential to become highly-rated go-to sources for health information, and the trend towards going to social networks before seeing a doctor is one we only see increasing. Several new companies have entered the marketplace to serve this need, focusing first on specific conditions, treatments or activities, to connect patients, empowering them to take charge of their health with doctors as partners rather than the sole source of knowledge.

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