MyBreastCancerTeam formally launched today, announcing the availability of its social network for women facing breast cancer.
The site is designed to provide all forms of support that women with breast cancer may need. First and foremost, it provides an empathetic, engaged, and welcoming community.
Upon signing up, members create a profile, and like any social network, it is up to the user how much information to disclose. In addition to basic information, like a profile picture, location, and age, women have the opportunity to tell their story.
The story can be as short as a few sentences, but many women choose to share detailed accounts of who they are and their personal battle with breast cancer. They include information about their background, personalities, families, and lives, as well as what their journey has been like.
Another profile element centers around diagnosis and treatment. Women put up specifics about their condition, including the type of breast cancer, stage, the treatments they have gone through, and Hormone Receptor Info. All of this information is searchable, so members can search for women in their area, seek out kindred spirits with similar interests and beliefs, or look for patients suffering from the same type of disease.
While there are hundreds of websites that provide medical advice, online and offline support groups, and multiple social media platforms, cofounder Mary Ray said there are none that address the complicated and specific needs of those dealing with this serious disease.
“Women want to talk about their condition and connect with people who know what they are going through,” she said. “There are hospital support groups, online groups, and list serves, but it is all basic technology you’d find in the year 2000. This is the kind of information people don’t post on Facebook, but that they do want to share, and to share it with people who have been in their shoes.”
MyBreastCancer team incorporates multiple internet trends into their platform. There is an activity feed, and users can post updates and add people to their team, like they would add Twitter followers. There are “hug” and “like” options, and a percentage bar to tell users how complete their profile is. There is even a “pinboard” a la Pinterest where women can assemble collections of images, whether it be modeling head scarves, pictures from an Avon walk, or recipes that appeal to radiation-sensitive stomachs.
The company has also created mobile apps for iOS and Android. Aside from being a smart move for any business, this is particularly useful for the user that spends extensive amounts of time at doctors offices, hospitals, and in waiting rooms.
Discussion is also a key component on MyBreastCancerTeam.
In the Q&A section, women ask and answer each others’ questions and the best answers are up voted by the community. The content is, of course, searchable. A patient looking for knowledge on a specific treatment type can type in the name of that treatment, and not only view relevant threads, but also comment or directly message women who responded to ask follow up questions.
There is even a Yelp like feature, where women recommend local doctors and other healthcare providers based on their personal experiences.
Due to HIPAA regulations, healthcare providers cannot disclose medical information. While this serves to protect patient privacy, it can make tapping into a disease-centered community more challenging. However, on MyBreastCancerTeam, women have control how much information they share, which enables a meaningful dialogue about sensitive, and private, medical issues.
“We heard so many women say they don’t know what their choices are and they are overwhelmed,” said cofounder Eric Peacock. “MyBreastCancerTeam lets women empower each other, not just with information, but with a sense of perspective. The fear in the back of your mind quickly gets mediated when you see other women feeling similar situations.”
The site is created by MyHealthTeams, which launched its first network called MyAutismTeam last year. It started with 30 parents in California and grew to over 30,000 members. The founders realized they had struck a nerve by providing a safe, online forum for people affected by disease to interact with each other.
They chose breast cancer for the second network because it is so widespread: About 1 in 8 American women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. As Peaock put it, chances are everyone knows someone afflicted with breast cancer. The community is there, its just a central, consolidated network that is not.
MyBreastCancerTeam is free for members. It is pre-revenue right now, although there is a business model on deck for the future. The founders do not want to plaster the site in advertising or violate their members’ trust by selling data. But they do intend to make sure of their large, engaged, and targeted user base to market products that their members may need.
Due to privacy regulations, it can be difficult for certain businesses to reach their desired audience. Working through MyBreastCancerTeam could give them the opportunity to place their product in front of potential consumers. On the other side, a formerly dispersed community could benefit from a new collective bargaining power.
MyHealthTeams is based in San Francisco and received $1.75 million in seed funding from Adams Street Partners, 500 Startups, and angel investors.