Categorized | Social Entrepreneur

“The Influence of Social Networking and Anonymity on Living Well through Shared Experiences with Illness” An Interview with TreatmentDiaries.com – Your Diary….Shared Healing

“The Influence of Social Networking and Anonymity on Living Well through Shared Experiences with Illness” An Interview with TreatmentDiaries.com – Your Diary….Shared HealingSocial networking can be a powerful force. It has the potential to encourage cooperation between folks with divergent views, foster hope among those who need it most, and bring about positive change. Our society has witnessed first-hand the rise of social networks, from the early days of Friendster and MySpace, through the emergence of today’s ubiquitous platforms like Facebook, now valued as high as $50 billion, and LinkedIn, the business network which recently launched a successful and highly publicized IPO. Social networking is clearly a big business, but do you ever wonder, throughout the years, what’s the point? With all the potential to effect positive change and to bring together diverse communities for a common good, why does it seem social networking sites so often seem to fall short – to behave like glorified dating sites, party planning forums, and job search sites?

This is where Treatment Diaries is different. It is a platform with a purpose. It is a site that actually fulfills the potential of social networking – of fostering hope and encouraging real and meaningful dialogue between strangers; people, who nonetheless share strong bonds, work to overcome similar challenges, and strive to achieve the same breakthroughs and milestones.

Treatment Diaries was inspired by our Founder and Entrepreneur, Amy Ohm and her personal experience with a cancer diagnosis. Rooted in the need to connect with those on a similar journey, she was in search of real people at every stage of her illness and the treatments they chose to leverage. She had a desire to connect in an anonymous fashion and be completely honest in coping with her illness, across multiple conditions and roles (i.e. parent, patient, caregiver, etc.) and to be encouraged by the stories of the strength and perseverance of others.

And so the story of Treatment Diaries (www.treatmentdiaries.com) begins. Launched earlier this year TD has captured the attention of a global community. With users in 126 countries and well over 30,000 diaries, the site supports the need to connect across 1,400 different conditions. These conditions include chronic illnesses, treatment approaches, mental health conditions and more. Users answer six simple questions to obtain a free account and once logged on; they add conditions and are automatically connected with users all over the world who share their experience. Users create diaries, scribble in the diaries of others, search for related insight and read the experiences of those on similar path. This dramatic growth, in a short period of time, substantiates the need for this unique platform. In the US alone there are roughly 250 million individuals living with a chronic illness, mental health condition or acting as a caregiver for someone with an illness. This number is expected grow considerably in the years ahead. In addition, not only is the growth of social networking validating this communication forum, but the desire to connect based on health related topics is at an all-time high.

Treatment Diaries intends to capitalize on a substantial market opportunity to support those in need, but also in connecting organizations that specialize in illness related products and services, with specific “human health and wellness” communities to promote solutions directly to those who seek and need assistance. Members of these communities, whose numbers are expected to exceed 200M by 2020 in the US alone, need assistance in the form of solutions, recommendations, and support; yet little infrastructure exists today to fulfill these needs for patients, caregivers, and patient advocates. Treatment Diaries was created to fill this void, to provide users with an anonymous and non-threatening environment to provide support, share experiences and offer advice across any and all of life’s changing events.

Today, users such as patients, caregivers, and advocates, visit Treatment Diaries and join multiple condition-based communities to seek support and solutions for conditions encompassing a broad range of illnesses. Treatment Diaries currently supports more than 1400 condition pages, which encompass both traditional clinical conditions and often many which are more topical in nature (i.e. caregiving, sibling support, chemotherapy, aging etc.). Condition related information is never provided by Treatment Diaries; hence the ability to rapidly roll out new conditions, which occurs regularly. The average user is registered for a number of personal conditions as well as the conditions which affect their children, spouses, and parents. Communities are organized by condition pages where users connect and communicate, as well as receive solution information from organizations that promote products and services to those who need assistance.

The current state of social media and online search indicates that a large market exists for “human health and wellness” products and services. Mediums for connecting people and disseminating solutions and support exist today, but they lack key requirements which impede their progress and growth. Treatment Diaries intends to fulfill these requirements and differentiate itself in the market. The two glaring inefficiencies in the market are personal privacy and the inability to deliver a solution to a highly qualified user. This is a “chicken or the egg” scenario. The current market is based on gathering information about a user into a profile, which is then analyzed, and targeting products and services to the profile. However, in the “human health and wellness” market, personal information is sacred and very few users feel comfortable providing the health information required to create a meaningful profile.

Today, Treatment Diaries addresses this market inefficiency by hosting virtual communities where patients and caregivers communicate anonymously through diaries and need not worry about revealing personal health related information. Treatment Diaries then connects sponsors, who provide needed products and services, to the condition based community. This one-to-many approach (sponsor to community) satisfies the needs of both the user (privacy) and the sponsor (qualified user) and enables Treatment Diaries to provide a unique social media and online search experience specifically tailored for the human health and wellness market.

No other human health and wellness community offers this level of service, diversity, and connectivity across a broad range of conditions. In fact, a majority of the users to date have shared their opinions of the site and the positive impact it has had on their improved well-being (i.e. “It’s always a comfort to me when sharing my diaries, makes a difference and just having the opportu­nity to share my thoughts makes me feel better.”).

“The Influence of Social Networking and Anonymity on Living Well through Shared Experiences with Illness” An Interview with TreatmentDiaries.com – Your Diary….Shared Healing

Amy Ohm

A few questions for the Founder of Treatment Diaries – Amy Ohm

Q: What is the best advice you never got?

A: Go for it – risk everything on your dream to make a difference! No one ever encouraged me to take the risk. I have since learned if you have a dream, be quick to follow it. Don’t regret not taking the risk and missing out on opportunity. Having the chance to be an entrepreneur making a HUGE impact in the lives of so many is fulfilling on many levels. Had I not taken the risk to launch this site, I’d be confined to working for a big company whose interest is in bottom line and not the influence of what a company like TD can have on the market; both in driving improved wellbeing of individuals and the success of companies who serve their needs through products and services. It’s incredibly satisfying to be making a difference.

Q: What is the one thing that you did right?

A: Deciding early on to allow users to register for multiple conditions. People are complex as it relates to their journey with illness. They are patients, parents to sick children and caregivers to spouses and parents. Coming to one site to connect on many different levels was a big risk and an enormous task, but it has proven to be a huge differentiator and value add to our community. Today, the limit is 20 conditions per user and we may look to increase this number in the very near future. It’s unique to come to a single site for illnesses which cross multiple gates like a chronic illness and a mental health condition. Instead of going to an American Cancer Society site for “Breast Cancer” and a Mental Health Site for “Depression” – they can share all of their illness related needs at TD. A typical user looks like this by way of the conditions listed in their profile: depression, anxiety, breast cancer, chemotherapy, ADHD and Alzheimer’s. This is more the norm than the exception when you look across the globe; people are in fact very complex.

Q: What was the biggest transition you had to make (i.e. new skill set, habits, abilities, focus)?

A: The biggest transition was in accepting responsibility for everything from creating the first contract, to hiring the right people, working with a law firm to incorporate, writing a business plan and creating all of the marketing materials, etc. and executing across the board. When you work for a BIG company, there are departments who are in charge of these domains – when you are a startup; YOU are in charge of everything! This was a bigger task than I could have ever imagined, but I learned so much as a result and it is very rewarding to be involved and complete the tasks required to make your company a success.

Q: What can you tell other potential social entrepreneurs who are deciding to make a difference?

A: Don’t ever give up! There are as many challenging days and obstacles as there are moments of success. You have to persevere and refer back to your vision to stay on task. Reward yourself for your hard work and stay in front of your customer – if you do things right, they will remind you of your purpose, keep you going and also help you make adjustments along the way. Ultimately, they will define your success!

The overall mission, passion and purpose behind Treatment Diaries secures a special niche in the landscape of social networking. Their commitment to protecting members so they can feel comfortable enough to help each other and providing a platform to support the diversity of those touched by illness is giving social networking purpose in the lives of many. Only through anonymity can people be fully honest about their fears, triumphs, and obstacles and as a result there are astounding people committed to supporting and helping folks they have never, and likely will never, physically meet; individuals unafraid to share their most personal struggles, and to respond to others in a positive way. Conversations take place without regard for status, standing, or reputation. Advice is given and received and words of encouragement seem to come from all angles. In Treatment Diaries, social networking is finding its purpose.

Treatment Diaries is impeccably poised to capture the dominant position in the market and to drive superior revenues given the uniqueness of the one-to-many mission and focus on connecting condition-based communities with resources. Thanks to the risk taking measures of one social entrepreneur, Treatment Diaries is uniquely positioned and highly qualified to be the market leader, with absolute dominance and penetration, across the continuum of global support for ALL who care for an individual or personally live with ANY kind of illness or condition thanks to the commitment of an entrepreneur who chose to take risk and make a difference.

We want people to make authentic, quality, lifelong, and if they wish anonymous connections, and inspire others to live life to the fullest, no matter what their condition.”

Amy Ohm, President & CEO

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