Health Union acquired Wego Health, fusing its sizable platform of chronic-condition communities with the latter’s vast network of patient leaders. The privately held firms told clients of the news Monday afternoon and were expected to announce it publicly Tuesday morning. 

The deal, terms of which were not disclosed, brought together two social platforms for patients living with chronic illness, both of which also make revenue by connecting those patients with pharma brands. Health Union boasts 33 condition-specific hubs, from migraine to MS, and Wego brings more than 100,000 patient leaders from its network, roughly 600 of whom operate on both sites.

As such, the execs said, their two businesses are complementary. “Wego Health is almost the same model as Health Union,” explained Olivier Chateau, Health Union’s co-founder and CEO. “They just do it for patient advocates and leaders, and we do it for the communities we serve. It’s a very natural fit.” 

Jack Barrette, CEO and founder of Wego Health, said that his firm “had been looking for a larger stage to play on for well over a year” and conducted “a very traditional sale process.” 

Wego’s fewer than 50 employees will join Health Union’s 200 full-timers, with Barrette becoming part of the leadership team at Health Union. No layoffs were expected.

The added scale from the acquisition will allow Health Union to more quickly identify new conditions to enter, said Chateau. It will also help the company better serve patient advocates and integrate services for pharma clients.

The two organizations plan to integrate service offerings, so that Wego’s industry programs can find extension on the Health Union platform and vice versa. “That’s the logical next step,” said Chateau. He added that, combined, the two companies work with about 100 pharma brands and are looking toward offering “incremental opportunities for clients.”

Chateau said the timing of the deal makes a great deal of sense in light of the trend seen in how people consume health content and manage their health. This, he noted, is “predominantly, or more and more, focused on use of social interaction,” something which picked up last year during the pandemic.

Health Union hopes people choose to have conversations in its communities, rather than on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. It has spent the last few years revamping its community technology model so that it offers a safer and more accommodating environment from a privacy standpoint.

“The Wego network will amplify that privacy for people to come and connect,” Chateau said.

For its part, Wego sees itself as a “steward” for patient leaders trying to understand how to use existing social platforms as well as they can to maintain privacy, security and authenticity when working with patient communities. “I’m a proponent of the idea that we can be exploring TikTok, Snapchat and other new channels where people are still living and breathing health, understand what value they get there and use the best of that, but combine it with a safe, purpose-built platform like Health Union,” Barrette said.