Fall 2012

Amrita Bhowmick helps migraine sufferers

Amrita Bhowmick helps migraine sufferers
Amrita Bhowmick helps migraine sufferers connect as a community.

Flashing lights followed by intense, pulsating pain as well as vomiting or diarrhea — migraine sufferers know these symptoms all too well.

A Binghamton alumna is part of a group trying to offer relief. Amrita Bhowmick ’02, vice president of community development for Health Union, is one of the creators of Migraine.com. While sites such as WebMD have a broad wealth of health information, Migraine.com provides deeper knowledge for migraine sufferers and healthcare professionals, plus an active forum.

“People like connecting with other people,” Bhowmick says. “They like to learn from others’ experiences, share and get things off their chest with people who understand. Having the support of an online community also can help with mental-health challenges, as migraine sufferers are at increased risk of depression and suicide.”

After graduating from the School of Management, Bhowmick earned an MBA and worked for six years at global healthcare company GlaxoSmithKline. Then she had the chance to help form Health Union, a company that uses the Internet to help consumers make informed decisions about their healthcare.

“I always had an interest in community development,” Bhowmick says. “I wanted to use my marketing skills in a public-health setting. This opportunity came up and it’s a perfect fit. I can mold the position to what I’m interested in.”

In the two years since its launch, the site has had 235,000 visitors each month and 40,000 likes on its Facebook page. Because of those numbers, Bhowmick says the site brings in strong advertising revenue. While the aggregated numbers speak to the power of Migraine.com, Bhowmick says individual stories posted within the forum also show the strength of information and the sense of community it creates.

“The little day-to-day nuggets that community members share are so valuable,” she says. “They learn new migraine management techniques from the site, see positive changes in their lives and report back. That information is shared with others who see the potential impact these changes could have.”