Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Mid-Week Reading: Shared Experiences and Health Social Networking

It’s that time again! The March Pain-Blog Carnival is now posted at How to Cope with Pain, featuring the month's best posts about living with chronic pain. New bloggers are always welcome to contribute.

Speaking of sharing insights and experience, I’m sure you’ve come across this New York Times Magazine article called “Practicing Patients.” It discusses PatientsLikeMe, a web community which “seeks to go a mile deeper than health-information sites like WebMD or online support groups like Daily Strength. The members of PatientsLikeMe don’t just share their experiences anecdotally; they quantify them, breaking down their symptoms and treatments into hard data. They note what hurts, where and for how long. They list their drugs and dosages and score how well they alleviate their symptoms. All this gets compiled over time, aggregated and crunched into tidy bar graphs and progress curves by the software behind the site. And it’s all open for comparison and analysis. By telling so much, the members of PatientsLikeMe are creating a rich database of disease treatment and patient experience.”

For patients with diseases like Parkinson’s, MS and AIDS, real-time discussion and analysis of treatment methods, dosages, and relatives success can provide invaluable—and hard to find—information.

This has been a big week in the health social networking world—, the health search engine I’ve written about before in conjunction with social networking, just announced the launch of Healia Communities. The site is “a free online health community that enables people to get personal support for their health decisions from peers and experienced health professionals … Healia Communities allows people to share their health knowledge, experiences and favorite resources; provide personal support and connect with people sharing the same health concerns; and get answers to their questions from health experts,” according to the press release.

More than 200 health communities exist right now, and a feature that distinguishes the site from other patient disease sites and groups that connect patients with each other is the additional access to health professionals who can also help answer questions.

What dedicated blog carnivals and online communities like the two mentioned above point to is the ever-increasing influence of technology over the patient experience, a vital exchange of experience and practice with the potential to do much to improve how we manage disease. Check them out and see if they are the right fit for your needs.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the mention Laurie. We welcome any feedback about how we can improve the beta version of Healia Communities. We'll be adding to it over the next several months. You can use the feedback link on the site to drop us a note.

The Healia Team

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