Would This Private Social Network Help You + Your Family With Health Care?

6 years ago

Hi everyone,

Does this sound familiar? I'm doctoring myself and my family via my smartphone, and it's not working. Take some events from the past month (the ones I'm allowed to share):

* My 15-year-old's orthodontia requires cleanings and check-ups every six weeks 

* One of my siblings, who lives alone 3,000 miles away, had an incapacitating back injury

* My mother had yet another mammogram 

* Now that I'm 45, I should find time for all kinds of typical baseline tests. Oh joy.

I know from reading your blogs that many of you are doing 20 times this much health management of you and yours, often in terrifying crisis. For me, in crisis and in the day-to-day, my phone is the hub of all prescriptions, doctor's numbers, and insurance mumbo-jumbo. If my better half or another doctor needs info, I have to dig it out, praying I remembered to put it there at all. And that's just for my kids -- I had no way to help my poor sibling this month, or monitor any meds or doctors in case I had to fly in and help. At 71, my parents are totally autonomous and have more energy than I do -- but I don't have their insurance info in my phone, and I'm their closest child.

Now apparently someone's invented a tool to fix all that. When Jonathan Schwartz, former CEO of Sun Microsystems, invited me to learn more about a private social network he created to help extended families manage healthcare, I listened. Warily.

His new product, CareZone, he promised in today's post and in person, does not and will not have advertising. He charges $5 per month per patient account called, rather charmingly, a "Beloved Profile." (And of course, there's a free trial.) The tool helps you track medications, medical staff, documentation (think living wills) and notes by family member, adding extended family, caregivers and anyone else you want to see the intimate information on the patient. The only people who can see it and use it are people you invite yourself.

Old woman and young girl holding hands from Shutterstock

Jonathan told me he started the company after he needed a technology to share intimate and urgent family health care data easily and privately. He and his wife were sandwiched between aging, ailing parents and a sick child, managing remote caregivers, doctors, far-flung family members, insurance, extensive medication lists, do-not-resuscitate orders, pediatric specialists -- multiple nightmares. So he got together with another technologist, co-founder Walter Smith (Apple, Microsoft), and got to work.

The site went live at midnight today and is a pretty simple, functional, stripped down social network. The Privacy, Securityand Terms of Service are simple and sound, giving the company the flexibility to augment their business model but committing to limit their use of log data, cookies and non-identifying information. 

"There's no reason we have to make this tradeoff between productivity and privacy," said Jonathan, who tweeted his own back surgery, but nothing about his parental crises or child.

"I think the privacy dialogue is only starting…Sheryl Sandberg(COO of Facebook) along with Larry Page (CEO of Google) is telling Europe they don't need privacy," Jonathan added. "They [Sandberg and Page] don't reflect their users, they reflect their advertisers. That puts them in a position that's in opposition to their users ... There will be no advertising on CareZone." (Note: BlogHer does accept advertising in order to pay women to write on their sites and ours; CareZone is not an advertiser and BlogHer has no financial or personal tie to the company.)

Read more of Sheryl Sandberg's recent comments on Facebook as "the first innovator in privacy" in CNNMoney and on privacy in the EU The New York Times' Bits blog.

According to today's Harris Poll and BlogHer's ongoing surveys of women in social media, few trust public social networks -- at least with this kind of intimate information. What I wonder is whether the women in this community -- BlogHer's network represents 37 million of the 66 million Americans taking care of a parent, a loved one or at least one child -- want this service.

So here's my question, women of the Internets: What's the likelihood, on a scale of 1 to 10, of you paying for this service? Do you need it? Want it? Would you trust it as "a safe place to care for loved ones" as CareZone presents itself? Would you want it to integrate the rest of your personal health information, such as a heart monitor, exercise device read-out or daily blood sugar and insulin measurements?

I'd love it if you could add your comments to this post -- I've added mine. Thanks.




Lisa Stone, BlogHer Co-founder

BlogHer is non-partisan but our bloggers aren't! Follow our coverage of Politics & News.


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