Virtual Communities (VCs) offer ubiquitous access to information and exchange possibilities for people in similar situations, which is especially valuable for patients with chronic / life-threatening diseases. However, it is seldom considered possible to create VCs systematically. This article describes the evaluation of the design elements and factors that contributed to the success of the VC krebsgemeinschaft.de (a VC for cancer patients in the German-speaking internet), by assessing user acceptance and usage. Additionally, the existence of trust (a constituent element of working VCs) in krebsgemeinschaft.de is addressed. Based on these criteria, we empirically verify the chosen design components and generate insights into the systematic development and operation of VCs in general and VCs for patients in the German healthcare system in particular.