Health Union CEO/Co-Founder Shares How Content and Technology Build Patient Relationships with

July 20th, 2016
By Lauren Lawhon, COO

Last week, Health Union CEO and Co-Founder, Olivier Chateau opened up to – a leading source for industry news and insights – about how our company is combining digital technologies and high-quality content to build real, trusted relationships with patients. Read an excerpt below or access the full article here.

Selected From – Content Connection: The Push for Story-driven Engagement by Casey McDonald

… Where online reference tools might have traditionally gone the proverbial “inch deep and a mile wide” across many diverse indications, Health Union aims to go a mile deep in a limited, but growing set of health conditions, according to CEO and Co-Founder Olivier Chateau. Navigate to one of Health Union’s nine websites like or and you’ll find a sleek layout akin to Gawker or Vox with daily features and engaging original art that gives the vibe of serious information that is approachable, readable and share-ready.

Chateau explained that idea for Health Union’s sites has been to build what he wished could have been possible during his tenure in marketing on GlaxoSmithKline’s diabetes franchises. “We were looking at the possibilities to impact and connect with patients on social media and thinking…Wow! Just imagine what we could do.”

For Health Union, the technology can bring people in, but solid content will keep them coming back. “There is a prevailing concept that we can conquer engagement and challenges around access and drug adherence by reaching patients with technological advances that will bring about these changes,” notes Chateau. “We see tech as a tool for engaging, but more importantly, we think the key will be content.”

It starts with a simple website; getting the name of or .net goes a long way in building trust and, obviously, recognition. Once patients can connect with their condition-specific site that has accurate, helpful basics and background information, daily content with professionally written articles keep patients engaged and coming back to the site and subscribing to the newsletter.

Health Union has grown to nine live communities with 80-plus contributors and moderators. About 10 contributors work on each site with some overlap, many of whom are patient advocates and physicians. In addition to content production, there are approximately five moderators per site. “We don’t see ourselves as publishers as much as relationship managers,” says Chateau, explaining the importance of content while allowing patients to interact and converse safely.

As for monetization of the sites and the relationships built with patients, it’s important that Health Union is very straightforward and transparent about who the group is and what the model is, explained Chateau. It is made “clear where the content is coming from and what the purpose is. It is easy to imagine negative attitudes that could develop,” he adds. “So being straightforward is key; this starts with the URL itself.”

Chateau pointed to three pathways to monetization of the sites. First is the media offering, “We discussed not having advertisers, but the community welcomed it,” he says. “Health Union accepts advertising only for approved products, obviously, but also serves its own internal ads in rotation so you won’t see any randomly populated ads that could become offensive and intrusive for our audiences.”

For example, the current adverts on are for Botox for chronic migraine. The information is presented as directly as any direct-to-consumer (DTC) ad, so there clearly is no mystery, and the openness hopefully assures no conflict.

The second offering is for market research. “These are active, motivated people in the audience and the sites offer the chance to connect with them,” says Chateau. “And, third, the sites are a resource for clinical trial organizations by bringing in engaged patients who can be such a rare commodity.”

The content takes substantial investment before these opportunities to monetize become possible, Chateau stresses. And driving consistently fresh material is crucial in cracking the social media code. “You get old real quick on Facebook and other social media outlets,” he says. “We’re cracking the code with attractive art and imagery as well.”

A constant concern for Chateau is the potential to lose trust and the ease at which this can happen, given social media vitriol. As he explains, moderating the discussion is key, but you’d be surprised how well the community moderates itself.

Health Union is not resting on its nine offerings. The company intends to add 10 more conditions including some in oncology, such as and, which Chateau finds both exciting and scary. “Our teams will have to tweak the model a bit for oncology,” and he added that support from academic institutions will be key for these adjustments …

Read more from the full text article here.

(2016) McDonald, C. Content Connection: The Push for Story-driven Engagement., accessed via 08 July 2016.