Healthline Launches Suite of Social Network Mobile Apps Focused on Chronic Conditions

Tess G.
Tess G.
Published June 22, 2020 Updated June 23, 2020

About Healthline

Healthline is the largest website and provider of health information in the world. It covers all facets of physical and mental health openly and objectively, providing resources including articles, tools, newsletters, apps, podcasts, and communities around people’s specific conditions, wellness content, and episodic health information. The second player to Healthline in this space is WebMD. Healthline delivers empathy and a “whole person” approach, along with medical accuracy, meaningful community engagement, and content that consumers need along their health journeys. Medical integrity, relatability, and trust are essential ingredients in the Healthline content development process.

According to Comscore’s June 2019 report, compared to June 2018 rankings:

  • Healthline claimed the #1 spot in the online health information category in 2019.
  • Healthline property posted a 48 percent growth year-over-year, attracting 81 million unique visitors in June 2019.
  • grew 35 percent year-over-year. This represents 15 million additional visitors versus the same time last year.
  • Healthline’s grew 209 percent year-over-year and is now the 4th largest health information site., a drug price transparency site represented by Healthline, grew 46 percent year-over-year, currently delivering almost 10.7 million unique visitors per month.
  • Healthline has surpassed WebMD Health by more than 5 million unique visitors.


Healthline Together Apps

Healthline Together is a suite of peer-supported social network apps addressing chronic conditions that Healthline Media introduced in January of 2018. The apps strive to reduce the social isolation people feel when living with chronic conditions and create trust and security between consumers and the health care system, while also providing a positive and secure space for people with the condition to come together and support one another– all from their mobile devices. These apps are a viable alternative to Facebook Groups because most people do not feel comfortable discussing sensitive or private topics like a health condition via a public platform. Further, once someone has registered for one of these mobile applications, you can create an avatar, or an unrecognizable username, that is only accessible to the app’s community, to protect your identity.

Healthline Together Apps are filled with thoroughly vetted healthcare advice, including a holistic news feed with curated content, as well as new member matches and group discussions for addressing questions associated with support and treatment experiences. Additionally, users leverage these apps within Healthline to stay on top of the latest information for their specific condition, including articles, podcasts, blogs, and condition-specific groups. Push notifications keep people up-to-date in real-time, empowering users to stay connected as much as they would like. Healthline privacy features promise maximum control, and users can choose to remain anonymous if they wish.

There are six apps within Healthline Together (double their portfolio this year), accessible through Android and iOS, each one led by a trained ambassador/guide who has the condition from the Healthline team, all addressing specific conditions:

  • Breast Cancer
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Migraine
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis


It was clear to Healthline that for the Healthline Together Apps, they needed to implement a comprehensive and slick activity feed into their apps to create an online social community experience surrounding chronic health issues. The company’s aim was to make these feeds as simple, familiar, and easy-to-use as possible so that their members could focus on engaging in conversation with other users around their conditions instead of trying to figure out how to navigate the technology. Healthline needed a way to fill members’ feeds with relevant content and the ability to have in-depth discussions with the community in real-time, which meant that threading and multi-level group conversations were necessary features to integrate. The look and feel of these apps had to be on par with other popular leading social networks to be competitive and grow. When Healthline began assessing the process of building their MVP version of the feed, they determined that they wanted it to be cutting edge yet clean and simple for their members to use. They were considering building an in-house solution to create a social network that would be competitive in today’s market. They wanted to create a feed full of sophisticated, compelling, innovative user-experiences without having to exhaust their resources from building the technology themselves. By introducing Stream into the picture to handle the development of these feeds with all of the necessary features for a robust tech stack, Healthline’s Product Development team could focus on serving the unique needs of each community, streamlining the process so that Healthline saved time, energy, and resources.

Why Stream

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The question wasn’t if Healthline was going to integrate an activity feed into their apps, it was how. Healthline prides itself on providing a world-class experience for its members on the web, so they knew that they needed to create one for their mobile applications, too. Healthline came across Stream right when they were starting to research how their team would have to spec, design, and iterate the technology to develop these feeds, taking away from the time needed to put toward the core competencies of the apps. Stream came to the rescue just in time!


A big perk that came along with partnering with Stream is that the feed content can be personalized to each individual user, and this is incredibly important considering the nature of these apps. Healthline members appreciate having a personalized experience over a global one considering each condition/illness and stage of the condition is unique. Stream’s technology is smart enough to efficiently collect the right data through clicks, likes, follows, etc. to curate a customizable feed for each person. Depending on the illness and how advanced their condition is, the Healthline Together Apps are able to put information in front of its members that is applicable, relatable, and helpful. Stream has made it possible to develop feature-rich feeds in front of Healthline’s users so that the experience feels comfortable and valuable.

Stream helped Healthline discover that optimizing the experience for new members as quickly as possible translates into long-term engagement retention. Therefore, Stream set it up so that new members would have the greatest exposure across the platform to drive up their engagement. Algorithms were created to match new users with existing members based on medical history, lifestyle activities, medication information, and nutrition plans based on the data collected during onboarding. With Stream’s help, Healthline is able to provide relevant connections to new members right off the bat, resulting in more user-retention.

Todd Zander, VP & GM of Healthline Together Apps, has been in the tech sphere for a long time. He said that out of the vendors with which he has worked in the past, Stream feels like a true partner. Healthline has trust and confidence in Stream’s developers, technology, and model because of Stream’s dedication to closely collaborate with Healthline’s team. The company’s vision for the apps included a variety of highly customized features to build the ultimate user experience for their members with specific chronic conditions, and Stream has listened carefully and acted accordingly to create exactly what Healthline had in mind for their product. Now, these apps are expanding to the web because of their ability to scale with Stream’s resources. People not yet registered for Healthline Together Apps will now be able to see these feeds on a desktop instead of just a mobile device, increasing their exposure to convert prospective users to registered members. Todd mentioned that because of Stream’s willingness to customize the app feeds in the way that they did, they now have an opportunity to scale even more.

“I’ve worked with a lot of technology solution vendors in my career, and the term ‘partner’ tends to be used loosely, but my team feels like we have a true partnership with Stream. Instead of just telling us a price and a plan, Stream is committed to understanding our business so that we can architect, build, and customize our apps exactly how we want them using Stream’s technology.” - Todd Zander, VP & GM of Healthline Together Apps

Primary Reasons that Healthline integrated Stream:

  • Quick time to market (saved them six months)
  • App-side scalability
  • Understandable and clear for members to use
  • Feeds are personalized to each individual user
  • Did not want to take the time and resources to develop in-house
  • High performance

Integration Process with Stream

Healthline describes the integration process with Stream as “pleasant” and “easier than we thought.” The shared Slack channel between the two teams was critical in communicating about all of the customized features that Healthline needed Stream to build. Time to market was much faster than expected because they were able to have discussions across time zones with people stationed all over the world.

“There is a dramatic increase in 90-day retention pre and post Stream’s feed implementation.”- Todd Zander

Future Vision

The future vision for Healthline Together Apps is that anyone who has health conditions or a wellness need comes to Healthline’s community of resources no matter what they’re looking for. Everything from compassionate support to medical research is available for these unique chronic conditions, so the hope is that no one feels alone in their health journey through Healthline’s applications. Healthline strives to continue to empower and connect people struggling with chronic conditions so that they always have a place to go.

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