Online health communities bring together patients, caregivers, clinicians, researchers, academics and commerce, including the pharmaceutical industry. These digital platforms focus on common interests such as a particular disease, research, therapies or campaigning to influence policy and funding. Research has revealed that online health communities can reduce regional health disparities and health capability gaps while generating social value for community members and their regions. The literature does not explain, however, how these online health communities actually generate social value.

Research being carried out by Dr Petros Chamakiotis, Associate Professor of Management at ESCP Business School, Dr Dimitra Petrakaki, Reader in Information Systems at the University of Sussex Business School, and Prof Niki Panteli, Professor of Digital Business at Royal Holloway University of London, is bridging this knowledge gap. The research team investigates social value creation in online health communities. They explore the types of social value emerging from online health communities and examine both the process leading to social value creation and the mechanisms contributing to it.