Social networking group based health education

Social networking group based health education

  • Overview

    Vision / description

    Educating patients is essential for preventing health problems and controlling disease. A patient who is well-informed about their condition can make better decisions about their healthcare. There are many ways for doctors to teach people about their health. The most traditional approach is for a physician to spend time with each individual patient, informing one patient at a time regarding his or her specific diagnosis. This is not a practical way for Chinese physicians since given the health resource imbalance issue in China, their average interaction with each patient is only about 5 minutes.

    Social networking and mobile apps, led by WeChat and Facebook with almost 3 billion monthly active users worldwide in early 2017, has transformed the way we perceive the world, as well as how we communicate and socialize. Users of social networking mobile app, such as Facebook, WhatsApp, WeChat, Instagram, all could form groups. Groups allow a quick and easy organization of individuals with related interests or characteristics, who can then share posts and pictures, and communicate instantly through text messages and video/audio chat.

    In the field of medicine, the effects of mobile social networking apps can be particularly far-reaching, for example, by changing the doctor-patient relationship. Patients are willing to form groups with similar health problems and diseases, hence, provide the most efficient way for doctors to reach out to large audience for health education purpose.

    Project objectives

    The goal is to establish a patient educational social network to cover at least 3 million patients with cancer, rare disease, chronic disease and other complicated disease in China who has limited access to health education and high quality health care resource.

    We are seeking partners in this project within the UN system. In particular, we hope to find partners in data evaluation and program design for successful expansion. We believe that the Agency most closely aligned with our interests and thus would be the most logical partner is the World Health Organization (WHO).


    Patients with low income and limited reachable health care resource, handicapped and seniors, people from isolated regions, all could benefit from this program.

    Current progress

    We have initiated a group-level health education program in early 2018, based on the most popular social networking mobile app in China, namely WeChat. Patients self-organized into WeChat groups according to their disease (Cancer group, Heart disease group, stroke group, rare disease group, etc.) in 35 cities in China. Thirty five doctors from different specialties are recruited and assigned to each patient group. A 500-patients group could be easily managed by one doctor, with average daily 1-hour interaction with patients. We believed this is the best way to conduct health education in the modern age, and could provide a practical solution for the heath resource imbalance problem in China.

    Project URL

    Sustainable Development Goals

    3. Good health and well-being; 10. Reduced inequalities; 11. Sustainable cities and communities

    Partnership types of interest

    Advocacy of global issues; Business opportunities in low income communities/countries

    Regions / countries / territories

    Asia: China

    Detailed location

    35 major cities of China

    Issue areas

    Education; Health

    Business sectors



    Existing partners

    Tangshan People’s Hospital, Chinese American Hematologist and Oncologist Network, Chinese Anti-cancer association, UC Davis Health system, Cleveland Clinic at Florida

    Stakeholders consulted

    Academia; Civil Society groups; Indigenous groups

    Preferred partner organisation(s)

    Business Association Global; Small or Medium-sized Enterprise; Social Enterprise

    Type of support needed

    Co-product development; IT support

    Collective Action
    • This initiative has a potential for scalability.
    • This initiative is seeking additional partners.
    • This initiative respects all dimensions of sustainable development.
    • This initiative is not submitted with commercial intent.