HealthCommentary

Exploring Human Potential

Social Health Capital: Sorting Out Complex Communications

Posted on | September 14, 2006 | No Comments

Any of us who have dealt with a health crisis in the family know that one of the challenges is keeping everyone informed during a period when all of your energy is focused on keeping yourself upright and moving forward. A wonderful example of technology applied to human need, rather than technology for technology’s sake, is the multiple-family-based social health networks that have sprung to life over the past few years.

Driven by “the people,” with support from “the people caring for the people,” these efforts demonstrate that Putnam was wrong in his classic “Bowling Alone,” where he proclaimed the decline of social capital in America based on decreased enrollment in bowling leagues and Rotary Clubs. He basically claims that society is becoming more fragmented, not more sically connected. However, I believe Marc Magee was right in his Ph.D. dissertation on the role of the Internet in expanding social capital in America — and this was written three years before MySpace.com sprung to life.

If you want to see social capital growing in the health care space, visit the sites I mention below. They’re devoted to people dealing with health care issues They help bring together families and friends of someone with an illness and allow them to communicate. They also connect these mini-communities with each other so they can share ideas and support.

www.caringbridge.org
www.carepages.com
www.thestatus.com

I’m encouraged by the transformation that is occurring online — the formation of new communities and a new way of connecting with each other. It has profound implications for our ability to create a new paradigm of health — one that brings families and physicians together via 24/7 online connectivity.

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