In this interview we speak with Meaghan Coneybeare, Community Manager with NewLifeOutlook.com, about this resource.
Tell us about NewLifeOutlook. What is the purpose of this organization?
Founded in 2014, NewLifeOutlook (NLO) operates a family of websites and social network communities that cater to people living with persistent, life-altering medical conditions. Our focus is on how these conditions impact a person’s lifestyle — we are first and foremost about people, and about illness second.
What services do you provide?
NewLifeOutlook strives to create a sense of community at every opportunity. Often this means that we act as a connector between those who are already prominent voices for their illness and those who are seeking information or support from others with similar experiences. NLO acts as both a hub and a megaphone.
Tell us about the resources available on your website. Who contributes articles for your newsletter and website?
As often as possible we will work with bloggers and vloggers who are already publishing content about their first-hand experiences with atrial fibrillation. Our contributors become extensions of the NLO team, and they’re typically our most valuable advocates. We’re always seeking new contributors who have a perspective and desire to share with their community.
Who is involved with NewLifeOutlook? Is there a medical advisory board?
Our team is comprised of editorial, design, development, social media, community management, and marketing staff, totalling approximately 15 people. We don’t work with a medical advisory board specifically because our intention is to focus more on the lifestyle implications of living with AFib (http://afib.newlifeoutlook.com/living-with-atrial-fibrillation/) or other chronic illness rather than be an alternative to seeking medical advice. Our team makes every effort to ensure that any medical information that is referenced in our articles is factually sound, often including links to reference source material.
Why do you encourage people to share their stories?
People of similar circumstance sharing their experiences with one another is really the epitome of what NewLifeOutlook values most. For every story that we publish on our websites, our community members share hundreds of experiences with one another across all of our social media channels. Occasionally our community managers will come across a story that is especially moving or would benefit from a different treatment, but every story is meaningful regardless of how or where it is shared.
You have a large following (over 25K followers) on Facebook. What would you say are the most popular or “liked” topics/articles?
Some of the most well-received pieces we’ve shared with our audience on Facebook have been around lifestyle topics such as the “The importance of staying hydrated with AFib” (http://afib.newlifeoutlook.com/afib-and-dehydration/), “How atrial fibrillation may affect your trip to the dentist,” and “Where to go for AFib info, care, and support.” This is pretty consistent with our belief that while there is an abundance of clinical information on the web about atrial fibrillation, there is a desire for more practical, actionable content that speaks to life beyond the diagnosis.
Would you say your audience is more active on your website, Facebook, or Twitter?
Much like our Facebook page, our Twitter audience is made up of a combination of advocates, patients, and caretakers. We are continuously working to provide helpful information to engage our community across our various platforms and provide them with a supportive and safe community experience.
What common questions do you most often hear from patients or followers on social media or in your support forum?
Many of the questions we receive from our followers include:
- What are the symptoms of AFib? (http://afib.newlifeoutlook.com/symptoms-of-afib/)
- What are some common side effects of atrial fibrillation medication?
- Can lifestyle changes improve atrial fibrillation?
- Will a catheter ablation cure my atrial fibrillation?
While we often are unable to answer some of these questions directly, as they are ultimately best answered by a physician, we can generally direct most inquiries towards an article where a contributor has written about a similar experience or where another community member has posed similar questions.
Why was it important to form this community for people with atrial fibrillation?
While there are plenty of sources of jargon-heavy information online about any given chronic illness, we’re of the mindset that what the web does best is create connections. Sometimes the most challenging aspects of living with a chronic illness are the emotional and relationship impacts. Connecting with someone who is experiencing similar challenges can provide a sense of validation and understanding that a visit to a doctor’s office cannot. Nobody understands what it’s like to live with atrial fibrillation unless they also live with the condition. We’ve created our community with this in mind.
How can one get involved? What’s next for NewLifeOutlook?
We encourage everyone to ‘Like’ us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/newlifeoutlook.afib), ‘Follow’ us on Twitter (https://twitter.com/NLO_AFIB), share their stories (http://afib.newlifeoutlook.com/submit-your-story/), sign up for our newsletter, and join our online community! We also encourage any writers or vloggers with first-hand experience of atrial fibrillation to get in touch (http://afib.newlifeoutlook.com/write-for-us/) — we’re always looking for new contributors.
We’re currently working on a number of projects to inspire and educate our community members, including creating videos and and hosting Twitter chats. We believe that change is a positive and powerful thing, and we hope to continue to grow and evolve with (and for) our community members.