Social networking: the grey area

A baby boomer client of mine (in her late 50s) is fond of saying, “Mine will be the first generation to bring their laptop with them to the nursing home.” Kind of a scary thought, and probably true.

In the meantime these older boomers are taking care of their aging parents and turning to new technologies to do so. I got an email from the CEO of CarePilot, which bills itself as

The “first vertical search engine for comparing home health care providers in communities throughout the US…

Just as “Baby Boomers” have used the Internet to manage their communication, financial, shopping, entertainment, and travel-related activities, CarePilot believes that they will also turn to the Internet to research, select, and connect with home health providers for their aging parents…

We are not simply another social networking site, rather we offer our users the ability to share and communicate with each other via CarePilot connections, as well as the ability to research care providers using our database of more than 8,000 home health agencies throughout the US

It’s an interesting model: combining research tools and social networking and I’ll be interested to see whether it can prosper. Social networking is a hard thing to orchestrate. It helps to have a niche audience that has a major unaddressed, sustained need. PatientsLikeMe fits that description, giving otherwise isolated ALS patients (their first target) the opportunity to share information on how to improve quality and length of life for a disease that kills within a few years.

I can see the need for information when selecting and managing a home health agency and the site should be able to serve as a useful forum for people to share advice. There will be some challenges:

  • The site is just launched, and the conversations are being seeded by a few early users and staffers. They’ll need a critical mass of regular users
  • Caregivers tend to be quite time-pressed so they may not get into extended back and forth discussions that help such forums thrive and be remunerative for their owners
  • Some of the useful information will be about specific, local agencies. There are so many agencies out there it may be hard to get enough discussion going about any individual one
April 20, 2007

2 thoughts on “Social networking: the grey area”

  1. David – Thanks for the post. You are correct to point out that CarePilot’s social networking functionality faces many challenges, i.e. achieving critical mass, whether the topic area lends itself to individual interactions, etc.

    During the course of researching and launching our service many potential users expressed to us that they depended largely on word of mouth, or advice from friends and family, when choosing a care option for their parents. Thus we decided to create an online forum, CarePilot Connections, where individuals can share their personal knowledge with a (hopefully) large audience.

    We believe that this combination of user feedback and collaboration, coupled with the objective data represented by our database of more than 8,000 home health agencies throughout the US. is the future of web-based health information initiatives. I will keep you posted as to our progress.

    Best – David

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