Health IT

Social health network offers discreet way to share, receive health info publicly

social-networks-300x186A neurologist has started a healthcare social network called HealthKeep that he describes as the inverse of Facebook. Everyone is anonymous but their information is public.

It was developed to help serve the 72 percent of Internet users who look for health information, most of whom rely on search engines. And though Facebook is a popular social network, most people wouldn’t feel too comfortable sharing potentially embarrassing personal health queries.

Lyle Dennis, the founder and CEO of Healthkeep, is also a practicing physician with Bon Secours Health System. founders, wants to give people a way to house and assemble a personal health record home where they can receive information that’s tailored to their interests. The more detailed the information they offer on their condition or that of a loved one along with symptoms and medication, the more detailed the information they get. And they can also feel more connected to physicians and other users who may share their condition or symptoms.

This is how it works. Users register with the site enter details like their sex, age, zip code, names of their doctors and asked to list conditions they may have, procedures they’ve undergone,  or medications they take. Users are also asked to list any symptoms. This generates a healthcare timeline that can be updated at any time and help users keep track of changes in their health so they can have a more informed conversation with physicians if the need arises.


But it can also put users in touch with others on the site who might share your condition, anonymously. If you do enter a specific condition the more likely you are to get targeted information in the form of articles, overviews of your condition, or warnings for any medication for your condition. The idea is that doctors will be added to the network and be able to disseminate information to their patients.

“Our goal is to grow it to 1 million users. It’s a great source of big data and it has the potential to produce a vast database that could be useful to physicians who follow certain diseases,” said Dennis. It plans to offer that de-identified data to companies interested in tapping it, pharmaceutical companies or payers, for instance.

Dennis said it is actively recruiting and having lots of conversations with potential partners such as medical systems, health plans and charities.

Are there any prevailing symptoms or conditions? “Right now I am finding that a lot of people suffer headaches,” Dennis answers.

Medical advice and patient networks are growing online, both broad query websites in search of answers such as HealthTap, which surpassed 1 million users last month and got the backing of venture capitalist Vinod Khosla and patient social networks such as One Health Solutions — which focuses on chronic conditions and offers health coaches who work with members to create plans for manageable behavioral changes.

Dennis said he has not yet widely publicized the website because it’s in public beta but he aspires to grow the network to 1 million users. Still, he believes it will generate beneficial information once it grows to 30,000 to 40,000 users.

“There are not a lot of these groups and there is an underserved market.”

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