Today was the final day of the Healthcare IT Marketing and PR Conference (HITMC) which I organize. The event is a lot of work, but the community that it’s created is absolutely golden. I really happened upon a unique community that had never been brought together before. Before this conference, healthcare marketing and PR professionals really didn’t have a place to go and learn and connect with people doing the same work they do. As Brian Mack mentioned at the end of the conference “This is the first conference where I didn’t have to explain to people what I did for work.” Someone else commented on how every person they talked to at the conference was someone who spoke their same language.

There’s really something magical about growing a community of like minded individuals. There’s value in expanding your horizons and hearing people from outside of your niche as well. Both can be valuable, but when you’re dealing with challenging problems, it’s great to be able to work with people who have seen those challenges before. That’s something that’s really hard to replace and is golden when you find it.

I think that’s why in healthcare websites like PatientsLikeMe have been so successful. Last year one of the HITMC attendees described his experience like “finally finding his tribe.” Patients have that same need. For example, my wife has hashimoto’s and whenever she meets someone who has the same issue, there’s an instant bond of shared experience. It’s a beautiful thing.

What’s going to be interesting as healthcare evolves is what new online healthcare communities will come to be. Will hospitals create communities for their patients? Will primary care doctors in an area create a community of users interested in being healthy? Will an ACO require these types of healthy communities?

Don’t underestimate the power of bringing together people facing similar challenges. There’s a magic in community that’s really special. Back to the HITMC community, I feel lucky to be part of such a caring group of individuals who really want to improve healthcare.

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