Hands hold up a trophy introducing the Social Health Awards.

Social Health Awards

Each year, the Social Health Awards empower and celebrate those leading the online health community – because the work of Health Leaders is something to celebrate!

Health Union's extensive research into social health has found that 95 percent of people use social resources for support and guidance. Even more impressive? Thanks to Patient Leaders, 86 percent of patients better understand their condition and, most importantly, 62 percent of patients feel less alone.

Year after year, the Social Health Awards program has proven to be one of the best ways to honor, recognize, and celebrate the work of Patient Leaders.

How do the Social Health Awards work?

Each year, the Social Health Awards are split into four different phases.


Think of nominations as a way to recognize your favorite Patient Leaders for their work. With 10 award categories, it's easy to show your appreciate for all the patient advocates in your life.


This period provides a community-choice aspect of the program. Endorsements are a way to give nominees a visual show of support for a specific nomination – think of it as "liking" a post or photo on social media. For instance, if a nominee is nominated for Community Cultivator and you believe they deserve this recognition, your endorsement is the perfect way to show your support.

The top 3 most-endorsed nominee in each of the 10 categories will automatically become finalists. However, it's not the only way to become a finalist. Three additional finalists will be selected through numerous rounds of judging where endorsement count and community site is not considered.


Health Union hosts multiple rounds of judging. After all, we receive thousands of nominations! Judges will use the information provided in the nominee's Patient Leader profile to review and score.

There are 6 finalists in each award category. To ensure the program’s integrity, half of the finalists will be determined through endorsement count, and half will be selected through the Health Union judging process. Finalists are selected in 2 ways:

  • The top 3 endorsed nominees within a Social Health Awards category automatically move on as finalists.
  • The subsequent 3 finalists in each category are selected by fellow Patient Leader judges. Finalists will be selected based on their relevance to that particular award and the information provided in a nominee’s profile – NOT follower or endorsement count. The finalist judging panels comprise past award winners, foundations, and organizations.

Once the top 6 finalists in each Social Health Awards category have been selected, we announce the finalists online and then move into the final round of judging.

To select the winners, healthcare industry thought leaders and experts convene to review the 6 finalists in each category based on their use of social media, their fit for the award for which they’ve been nominated, and how effectively they engage their online community. Judges score individually, and then Health Union tallies these scores to identify the winners. The winners are announced at the annual virtual Connexion event.


All Social Health Awards finalists win access to the virtual Health Union event Connexion. This annual Patient Leader conference brings together more than 100 Patient Leaders from across the globe and from more than 30 online communities to attend a week-long event to advance their advocacy efforts.

Past sessions have included social media advocacy, mindfulness meditation, gentle chair yoga, connecting with Patient Leaders, vulnerability and mental health with Tyler Campbell, and our keynote on resiliency in the midst of chronic burnout with Rebekah Taussig. Winners are then announced on the last day of Connexion for a special Patient Leader celebration!

Winners are also invited to the Fierce Pharma Marketing Awards, an exclusive in-person award ceremony held in Philadelphia each fall. Health Union and FiercePharma have partnered for several years to celebrate the Social Health Awards. The 2024 Social Health Awards winners were eligible for:

  • Attendance to the Social Health Awards presentation and networking reception
  • Transportation and accommodations for up to 2 nights in Philadelphia for the Social Health Awards celebration and Digital Pharma East event in September
  • Access to the Digital Pharma East conference and networking events
  • Invitation to join as a compensated 2025 Health Union Patient Leadership Council (PLC) member
  • A personalized Social Health Awards plaque
  • A shipment of the latest Social Health Awards swag

What are the Social Health Awards categories?

The 10 Social Health Awards categories are based on the foundational values of the patient community, such as empathy, leadership, and creativity. The awards categories recognize exceptional Patient Leaders who are making a difference in the lives of patients and caregivers. Learn more about each of the Social Health Awards categories.

Learn more about our past Social Health Awards recipients