The explosive growth of mainstream social networking sites has encouraged the development of smaller, niche networks designed to connect patients who share a diagnosis; however, no one platform has established itself as a central health-networking hub. WebMD is the latest in a series of sites to attempt the feat by launching its own network, WebMD Health Exchange.
WebMD’s new community is divided into exchanges, each focused on a specific condition or patient interest. Some are moderated by experts selected by WebMD; others are created by members. All exchanges let patients post discussion topics, tips, and resources. Despite design limitations, many existing disease-focused networks have successfully fostered vibrant, active communities—due in part to the persistent desire of patients to build relationships based on shared experiences. WebMD Health Exchange taps into this desire, and has also demonstrated a commitment to continuous tweaks and revisions based heavily on user feedback. There are several individual cancer exchanges that are easy to locate through the site’s browser. Patients can join a network by visiting www.WebMD.com.