SurvivorNet, the two-year-old cancer media company, has added media executive Rona Fairhead to its board of directors.
Fairhead has previously served as CEO of the Financial Times and as BBC chair, but something more personal drew her to SurvivorNet.
“On a personal level, cancer has touched me in profound ways; I lost both my parents to cancer – my father to prostate cancer, my mother to gallbladder cancer,” she said via email. “However, I am a cancer ‘good news story!’ I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, benefited from exceptional treatment and have returned to a very full and fulfilling life with no recurrence since.”
She recognized that many cancer patients don’t have the same access to top cancer hospitals and reliable information. That makes a company like SurvivorNet even more important to the cancer community.
For cancer patients or caregivers, getting accurate and timely information about cancer treatments online can be tough with health misinformation running rampant. Fairhead said she was advised not to search online for cancer information during her treatment.
“Fake news is a problem in healthcare – both in the U.K. and U.S. These fake cures are often promoted on Google and major social media platforms. What makes this so tragic is that people who choose alternative remedies over the standard of care are twice as likely to die,” Fairhead said. “Not unreasonably, traditional health media brands, and traditional mainstream news sources, are unable to invest in enough high quality, nuanced health information, and so do not adequately serve people who need in-depth information for a problem such as cancer.”
That’s where SurvivorNet comes in. The company is growing quickly and attracting an average of 2.5 million unique visitors per month, Fairhead said. With that growth, the company needs to continue to scale its staff and potentially secure more capital, she added.
The specific audience reached by SurvivorNet has also led to an increase in advertiser interest from healthcare and pharmaceutical companies. Fairhead noted that SurvivorNet already works with GSK, Merck, Bristol Myers Squibb and Astellas.
While advertising is an important part of the business, Fairhead emphasized that the company’s executives and board recognize that ensuring editorial integrity is “paramount.”
“An increasing number of important oncology brands are becoming advertisers on SurvivorNet,” Fairhead said. “The key here for marketers is access to very high value patients, who are often hard to reach. SurvivorNet aims to solve an important social problem, while also driving commercial value. It’s very important that the content on SurvivorNet is produced with 100% editorial independence.”
In recent months, SurvivorNet has expanded its products beyond editorial content. Earlier this year, the company launched a linear streaming network, SurvivorNet TV (SNTV).
Other new products include “The First 60” is an email product for newly diagnosed patients that walks them through the first few months of diagnosis and SurvivorNet Connect, an educational program for doctors where they can earn CME credits.
The company’s goal is to continue to add more content and products like these, Fairhead said.
“The major focus is growth by developing more content and building out the products,” she said. “The strategy to create ultra-high quality information for specific disease verticals has achieved product-market fit. SurvivorNet aims to transform the market for information across numerous chronic diseases and create an extremely valuable and profitable company – while continuing to do good.”