Connecting Hospitalized Patients One-on-One with Other Patients Who Have the Same Illness

New Jersey patient support program: A model computer-based, patient-to-patient network

From 1994 to 2007, staff at Friends' Health Connection (originally called Long Distance Love), New Brunswick, N.J., created and ran a program that enables hospitalized patients to communicate one-on-one with another patient who has the same illness. Patients report that sharing experiences and feelings with someone who understands helps to improve their functioning and recovery after discharge.

Friends' Health Connection also sponsors:

  • A lecture series in which well-known speakers address health related issues to audiences of patients, health care providers and the general public.
  • A speaker's bureau through which outside organizations can contract with Friends' Health Connection to schedule speakers for their own events.

Key Results

  • Friends' Health Connection developed an online site that helps match patients for mutual support. The site also provides online support groups for patients with various illnesses. The online community numbers between 200 and 300 members.

  • Attendance at the organization's lecture series increased from around 4,000 per year in 2005 to more than 10,000 in 2009—a 150 percent increase.

  • Revenues generated through its speaker's bureau, online bookstore and lecture fees covered 73 percent of expenses in 2009, an increase from 46 percent in 2005.