Using social networks for health is no longer a pioneering, first-wave adoption activity: Facebook has gone mainstream in health. What’s the indicator that says we’ve hit the tipping point in consumers going Health 2,0, beyond Paging Doctor Google? A story in the July 2012 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine titled, Miracle on Facebook. What’s powerful about this is that articles on health social networks have been largely focused in health IT trade publications, business magazines like Forbes  (focusing on sustainbale business modeels) and technology channels such as Fast Company and Wired.

Looking at Good Housekeeping’s ad pages, its readership is mostly multi-tasking women who manage households and lead busy lives, trying to balance home, family time, work and community activities. While health stories have filled GH’s pages for years, the lens has typically been on nutrition, women’s health, weight management, and healthy beauty.

With Miracle on Facebook, GH tells the story of a family seeking a kidney for organ transplant for their 23-year old son, Ryan. Given a waiting list prospect of 3 years, Ryan’s family took to the Internet and posted a video on Facebook about the need for a kidney donation — and Ryan’s mom’s 200 Facebook friends then virally distributed the video throuugh their networks

In fact, kidney and other organ transplant patients and caregivers have taken to Facebook and other social networks to crowdsource health. Within a few days, 10 people had stepped up to volunteer their organs to Ryan.

Eventually, a relative of Ryan’s mom who had seen the video donated her kidney, and Ryan has recovered.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: Faceebook is one major platform for crowdsourcing health, but there are many others building sustainable business models. The announced acquisition of CureTogether by 23andme earlier this month shows that the savviest Health 2.0 companies can develop useful business models that simultaneously serve patients, caregiverss and providers, while making money in a sustainable way beyond banner ads.

Good Housekeeping’s article illustrates the power of peer-to-peer health, largely outside of the purview of institutional health care. The story also highlights the power of Mom and Chief Health Officer of her family and home: perhaps GH could spin off a perennial title called Good Healthkeeping.

This week, I’ll be involved in two important meetings focused on consumer engagement in health care. We’ll be sharing best practices, lessons learned, and what-not-to-do caveats. I’ll be telling Health Populi readers what I learn from these discussions throughout this week. Stay tuned…and continued power to the patient!

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