I have been asked this question.
I am thinking that I should set up a Facebook forum for health professionals and heart patients. I welcome your suggestions in joining forums dedicated to heart health professionals and patients.
I have been thinking about my answer and although I do not know of any examples of forums that currently exist, I have come up with a couple of questions I think it is important to consider before setting up a forum like this.
1. What focus will your forum have? Is it social support forum, or more a "ask the doctor" website? If you are unclear what your forum is about, you may find it difficult to attract participants.
2. Are you the right person to set up this forum? By this question, what I mean to say is...online forums often come about because of a perceived need...it has an organic conception and growth. If you decide to manufacture a forum or community where there is no need other than your own, then it will not be successful.
3. Is there a need for your forum? Is there one already up and running that you could hook into? There is no point trying to set up a forum if there is already a very successful one achieving the goals you are interested in.
4. If your forum is a "ask the doctor", how will you moderate the information given? How will you ensure the information given by the health professionals is correct? How will you attract health professionals to take part? The last thing you want to do is be a vehicle for mis-information.
5. Who will drive the forum...lead it...moderate it? Successful forums are usually organic but they do need people to 'lead' them. Have a look at my recent post in which I talk about how to set up online communities.
6. Is it appropriate to have a mix of health professionals and patients? Will one group over-power or disadvantage the other? I guess this comes back to the aim of your forum...what you are wanting to achieve. I think it would be appropriate to do some market research...to talk to people to find out what they want and what they'd be prepared to give to the forum.
7. How will you manage issues of confidentiality? It is vital that patients are not compromised in any way. And health professionals have various professional and statutory regulations they will need to follow, so it is important that your forum recognises this.
8. Is Facebook an appropriate platform for a forum in this area? Would a closed email group be a better option? What are the advantages of using Facebook? As I have said only very recently in my post about what tools to use for setting up online communities, Facebook is a great networking tool because so many people are using it. However, confidentiality can be difficult to maintain in Facebook but again, it depends on what you are wanting to achieve in this forum.
Do you know of any online communities or forums that already exist for heart patients and health professionals? Or, do you have any advice or comments about how to set up forums for patients, health consumers and health professionals?
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