Social Media Week Panel Reveals How Patients Are Connecting


In the rapidly growing health technology industry, consumers gain valuable personal health insight by connecting on social media and using data pulled from wearables and apps. Whether it’s diabetes, MS or cystic fibrosis, social media and technology are bringing people together and creating communities centered around health. This was the subject of Digitas Health LifeBrands’ Social Media Week panel “Beyond Marketing: How Connected Communities Are Transforming Healthcare.”

Moderated by Michael Leis, SVP, Social Strategy, Digitas Health LifeBrands, the discussion explored the use of social media in pharma, agencies and health and wellness brands. Key insights from the panel include:

  • Consumers use social media for multiple reasons—to practice conversations with doctors about sensitive health issues and to gain support from people with similar health issues. Social media also becomes a place to find solidarity and empathy among these health-oriented consumers—an idea often lost on many traditional marketers.
  • These conversations are new and constantly evolving. People gain the tools to understand successful treatment by sharing experiences with a like-minded community.

Panel participants all had key insights to share:

“Nearly 80% of people living with a chronic condition say that having an online community of patients suffering from a similar condition is important. And the number one reason given for why it’s important is to find hope.” Patricia MacWilliams, Head of Healthcare Advertising Sales, Google. Research was pulled from a Google Consumer Survey of people living with chronic conditions.

“We did a study on the conversations around HIV. The general thought was: People aren’t going to talk about their diagnosis process or going through the lifecycle of HIV. But we found out that a lot of different groups and audience members are talking about the disease.” –Peter Engleman, Group Manager, Agency Development, Brandwatch

“By looking at the behavior and trends of people living with certain conditions, we can begin to achieve better health outcomes.” Rikin Diwan, Brand and Creative Strategy Manager, FourSquare

“Thanks to social media, patients finally have a place to come together and talk about their illnesses.” –Ryan Billings, Director of Social Strategy, AstraZeneca

“The level of honest and positive engagement between patients on social media is staggering.” –Samantha Arabolu, Director of Social Strategy, Digitas Health LifeBrands

Watch the full panel discussion at


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