Need support for your diabetes, heart disease or long COVID? Access an online patient community through Discovery Health


Are you living with diabetes, heart disease or long COVID? Want to connect with others who are sharing the same experience by accessing an online community, for support, and relevant insights? Say hello to three new online patient communities, made accessible through Discovery Health and MyHealthTeam, created with you and your best health in mind.

When a patient is diagnosed with a chronic condition, understanding how to deal with it effectively is key to managing it well and maintaining good health.

However, it's also important to feel we aren't alone, isn't it?

Dr Noluthando Nematswerani, Head of the Centre for Clinical Excellence at Discovery Health, says, "While patients mainly rely on their doctors for information, connecting with other people diagnosed with the same condition provides additional empowerment and support. In our highly digitally connected world, this often happens online. Most recently, through the COVID-19 pandemic - a time in which many people have been isolated and stayed away from medical facilities for fear of exposure to COVID-19 - people have turned to online support and advice more than ever before."

"However, we must be sure that what we access online is true, relevant to our particular situation and actually helpful in the management of our condition. The wrong advice can cause us real harm. That's where online patient communities meet a very real need."

It's time to access the new online patient communities to support and guide you in your health journey

Online patient communities are patient-led, online groups where patients, caregivers, doctors, researchers, and others come together with a focus on a particular disease. They share stories, offer support and information, and even develop solutions where needed.

To enhance the support that Discovery Health Medical Scheme offers to members living with diabetes, heart disease and those impacted by long COVID, Discovery Health has partnered with MyHealthTeam, a global leader in managing highly effective online patient communities.

"From January this year, qualifying scheme members and their loved ones and caregivers (see criteria listed at the end of this piece) have access to a digital community of patients living with the same illness, to help them manage their condition through access to credible online resources," says Dr Nematswerani.

  • MyHealthTeam has more than a decade of experience in delivering highly effective digital patient communities. MyHealthTeam currently manages 41 condition-specific communities for more than 2.5 million patients worldwide.

What do members of Discovery Health Medical Scheme's digital patient communities have access to?

  1. Social networks for members living with diabetes, heart disease and long COVID
  2. Full time MyHealthTeam dedicated Discovery support team community moderators
  3. Dedicated resource hub accessible to Discovery Health Medical Scheme members with information to empower you
  4. All articles are reviewed by medical experts before publishing.
  5. Regular blogs and live question and answer (Q & A) sessions with a panel of local and international medical experts.

Six benefits of being part of our online patient communities

  1. Social support: Connect with people living with the same chronic illness to exchange real-world health experiences and stories.
  2. Reviewing of content by experts: Active engagement by medical experts makes sure all conversations and patient-to-patient exchanges are clinically reviewed.
  3. Access condition-specific, curated content, including the latest in clinical treatments and advances in research.
  4. Achieve better health: Online patient communities empower patients, drive adherence to treatment and therapy, and promote effective self-management. Belonging to a digital patient community has the potential to help you get healthier and improve your quality of life. The findings of a systematic review published in 2021 and looking at online patient communities were that they supported patient empowerment by meeting the patient's emotional needs in handling their condition and that these communities supported both the process and outcomes of patient empowerment.
  5. Digital access extends support to more people, for example, in situations where elderly or sick people cannot attend a physical support group.
  6. Online patient communities provide patients and caregivers with new resources and help patients' loved ones to gain new insights into how conditions affect their loved ones and how to support them.

Dr Nematswerani adds: "These benefits easily explain why, over the past decade, online patient communities have really taken hold globally. Today they exist for various medical conditions including cancers, chronic pain, epilepsy, endometriosis and many more conditions. They empower patients to take control of their health and wellbeing in many ways. They also place value on the patient experience, as people are more likely to trust insights from those who have walked in their shoes. Online patient communities also ensure a safe and secure online space. They are an excellent supplement to traditional face-to-face healthcare access and have capacity to really raise awareness and knowledge about one's condition and empower them to take ownership of their health."

Why focus on diabetes, heart disease and long COVID?

Globally, there is an increasing number of people living with chronic illnesses. This is largely driven by an ageing population and unhealthy lifestyles.

Almost 500 000 members of Discovery Health Medical Scheme have diabetes or a heart disease, and at least 22% of members are diagnosed with both conditions. Over the past five years, there has been a 43% increase in the number of members who have registered for diabetes treatment.

10% to 30% of people who contract COVID-19 experience persisting or new symptoms for longer than three weeks after the acute phase of their illness. Globally, people in this position say they often struggle to manage their symptoms and feel stigmatised and unsupported.

"Long COVID may result in long-term health problems. Appropriate clinical guidance coupled with access to up to date relevant and curated clinical information can assist patients in dealing with this condition better," says Dr Nematswerani.

Find out more about accessing the online patient community platforms through Discovery

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