34 results for “innovation”

PatientsLikeMe at the NHS Innovations Expo

Posted March 21st, 2011 by

expo2011_logo-straplineIf you’ve ever tuned in to one of our podcasts or had a chance to view one of our videos, there’s a certain characteristic you might have noticed about me.  I’m British.  Very British indeed. During the course of my academic research career, I spent 6 years working alongside neurologists, psychiatrists, and a multidisciplinary team of nurses, speech and language therapists, physios, and occupational therapists at King’s College Hospital and the Maudsley Psychiatric Hospital in South London.  As you probably know, the United Kingdom (UK) has a very different health system to the United States (U.S.). The National Health Service (NHS), formed in 1948 as part of post-war reconstruction, has three core principles:  1) To meet the needs of everyone, 2) to be free at the point of delivery, and 3) to be based on clinical need rather than ability to pay.  Against an aging population and rising medical costs, however, the NHS needs to continually innovate in order to remain cost effective, and the UK’s coalition government has set an ambitious target to maintain quality of care while cutting £20 billion from the NHS budget (approximately $32 billion).

Earlier this month, PatientsLikeMe was invited to participate in the NHS’ second Innovations Expo in East London, a 2-day expo featuring a vast exhibit hall of innovations from the private and public sectors, as well as a packed schedule of seminars and platform presentations from Andrew Lansley (Secretary of State for Health) and Sir David Nicholson (Chief Executive of the NHS).  They spoke of plans for radical reform of the NHS, with more power being transferred from central government to General Practitioners (GPs, equivalent to U.S. Primary Care Physicians, PCPs) and much more of an emphasis on something that ties in with our core value: “Patients First.”

We were fortunate to have a “Masterclass Theatre,” where, on behalf of PatientsLikeMe, I was able to share some of our experiences in the U.S. and provide examples of successes we’ve had that might translate well to the NHS.  We also gave a couple of more intimate seminars which candidly discussed 5 lessons we had learned from 100,000 patients over the past five years.

In addition to PatientsLikeMe, there were a number of interesting innovations at the event, including a company that does what we do but for doctors (Doctors.net.uk), a patient health record that links into the NHS’ medical notes system and allows clinicians to help manage patients with rare conditions (PatientsKnowBest, founded by a doctor and chronic condition patient), and an information portal that helps provides clinicians with the best evidence to help support their decision making (NHS Evidence). We also attended the launch of an inspiring white paper from thinktank The Young Foundation entitled “Connect: Patients and the Power of Data.”  Sensible, compelling, and highly readable, the report starts off with a quote from the coalition government’s white paper on health that we might just make into a plaque: “Information is a health and care service in its own right: it must be freely available to all those who need it.” You can read the report for free here.

For PatientsLikeMe, the UK and the NHS in particular offers a number of interesting possibilities. Because there is less variability in access to care in the UK than the U.S., it might make a better environment in which to evaluate how much benefit our system can have for patients with serious health conditions.  The UK also has a strong medical science community and some of the brightest minds with whom to collaborate on research studies (see, for instance, our work with Oxford University).  Finally, the UK is an interesting place for us to operate because the system is more aligned to prioritize patient care over profitability; that’s not to say it’s flawless or that cost is not a factor in rationing access to some services. But if the current round of proposed reforms are implemented, it seems that physicians and care providers are going to be evaluated and rewarded on the basis of the outcomes they produce for patients, not just the number of procedures they perform. That sounds just like the world we’d like everyone to live in.

PatientsLikeMe member pwicks


Who’s #2 in Healthcare Innovation?
You guessed it – PatientsLikeMe

Posted February 18th, 2010 by

It’s been an exciting few months for PatientsLikeMe.  Here’s a quick recap…

Today, Fast Company released its mic_logoannual  ranking of the 50 Most Innovative Companies in the World.  PatientsLikeMe made #23 on the list alongside big league companies like Facebook, Disney, Novartis and Amazon.  PatientsLikeMe was also named the second most innovative company in healthcare, behind powerhouse General Electric (GE).  Read our news release about it here and the magazine article featuring one of our MS patients. To commemorate this honor, we’ve interviewed our President and Co-founder, Ben Heywood, in our first-ever PatientsLikeMe podcast (hosted by our own Aaron Fleishman).  Listen in!

Speaking of innovation, what do Bill Gates, Al Gore, Steven Hawking, Goldie Hawn, David Blaine and PatientsLikeMe Co-founder Jamie Heywood have in common? All of these innovators have graced the stage at a TED event. A nonprofit that brings together innovative people from “Technology, Entertainment and Design,” TED’s mission is to simply spread ideas.  Isn’t that another way of saying “share?”  We do love that concept.  Here’s Jamie at TEDMED (the healthcare-focused TED event) sharing our vision on the future of medicine in his presentation, “The Big Idea My Brother Inspired.”

Finally, we’d like to give a shout out to some of people who have interviewed us since the start of 2010.  In the February 8th issue of TIME magazine (“Group Therapy”), reporter Bonnie Rochman caught up with Jamie to get his perspective on the power of online patient communities. Later that same week, Ben Heywood sat down with Staci and Steve from WAAM’s My Great Kid Radio show to discuss sharing, openness and the remarkable power of technology.   He also spoke with Ryan McBride from Xconomy about the growth of PatientsLikeMe as a business, so be sure to check it out.  Lastly, we just posted a blog interview with reporter and author Thomas Goetz regarding his newly released book, “The Decision Tree” (featuring PatientsLikeMe and our community members).

Stay tuned for more 2010 interviews, announcements, and podcasts right here on our blog.

PatientsLikeMe member lscanlon


PatientsLikeMe and Actelion to develop new patient-reported measure for mycosis fungoides-type cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (MF-CTCL)

Posted August 5th, 2014 by

Patients To Share Their Experiences, Help Researchers Better Characterize Disease
And Develop Treatment Strategies 

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—August 5, 2014—PatientsLikeMe and Actelion Ltd. (SIX: ATLN) are partnering in a research initiative to create a new patient-reported outcomes tool for the rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma called MF-CTCL. The collaboration will leverage PatientsLikeMe’s Open Research Exchange (ORE), an online hub for developing and sharing new health measures that better reflect patients’ experiences living with and managing disease.

Actelion is the first pharmaceutical company to use ORE to create a measure for a rare condition and, once completed, to share it with other researchers. Actelion’s Senior Director – Medical Head of VALCHLOR and ZAVESCA Mitchell Nagao said he believes this open approach to research will enhance the existing evidence about MF-CTCL. “As changes in technology, culture, and treatment affect how patients live with disease, we want measurement to evolve accordingly. Our work with PatientsLikeMe will help ensure we’re applying the best principles for patient-centered research and giving tools back to the community so they can evolve them even more.”

PatientsLikeMe Vice President of Innovation Paul Wicks said the project further reinforces that ORE is a proven platform for developing new patient-based measures. “We created ORE to help patients and researchers work together to transform care and discovery that truly serve the patient. Now we’re past the initial pilot stage, and it’s exciting to see members of industry engaging with patients to develop more tools that really measure what matters to patients.”

Actelion will work with PatientsLikeMe to engage people who have MF-CTCL for support and research and to develop and test the tool. PatientsLikeMe welcomes anyone with MF-CTCL who is interested in contributing to join in at www.patientslikeme.com.

Cutaneous (skin) T-cell lymphomas (CTCL) are non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas that primarily involve the skin but can also involve the lymph nodes, blood and other organs. Mycosis fungoides (MF-CTCL) is the most common type of CTCL.

About Actelion Ltd.
Actelion Ltd. is a leading biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of innovative drugs for diseases with significant unmet medical needs. Actelion is a leader in the field of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Our portfolio of PAH treatments covers the spectrum of disease, from WHO Functional Class (FC) II through to FC IV, with oral, inhaled and intravenous medications. Although not available in all countries, Actelion has treatments approved by health authorities for a number of specialist diseases including Type 1 Gaucher disease, Niemann-Pick type C disease, Digital Ulcers in patients suffering from systemic sclerosis, and mycosis fungoides type cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. Founded in late 1997, with now over 2,400 dedicated professionals covering all key markets around the world including Europe, the US, Japan, China, Russia and Mexico, Actelion has its corporate headquarters in Allschwil/Basel, Switzerland. Actelion shares are traded on the SIX Swiss Exchange (ticker symbol: ATLN) as part of the Swiss blue-chip index SMI (Swiss Market Index SMI®). All trademarks are legally protected.

About PatientsLikeMe

PatientsLikeMe® (www.patientslikeme.com) is a patient network that improves lives and a real-time research platform that advances medicine. Through the network, patients connect with others who have the same disease or condition and track and share their own experiences. In the process, they generate data about the real-world nature of disease that help researchers, pharmaceutical companies, regulators, providers, and nonprofits develop more effective products, services and care. With more than 250,000 members, PatientsLikeMe is a trusted source for real-world disease information and a clinically robust resource that has published more than 50 peer-reviewed research studies. Visit us at www.patientslikeme.com or follow us via our blog, Twitter or Facebook.

###

Contacts
Samantha Cummis
Actelion USA
+1 650.808.6615
samantha.cummis@actelion.com

Margot Carlson Delogne
PatientsLikeMe
+1 781.492.1039
mcdelogne@patientslikeme.com


PatientsLikeMe invites patients to lead research projects on Open Research Exchange

Posted March 29th, 2014 by

New $2.4 Million Grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Supports Two Patient-Led Projects in 2014 to Develop, Test and Validate Patient-Reported Outcomes

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—March 27, 2014—Expanding on its mission to put patients at the center of clinical research, PatientsLikeMe today announced that patients can now apply to lead the development of new health outcome measurements using the company’s Open Research Exchange™ (ORE) platform. This call for participation is a way for people living with disease to become the researcher, and to use their own and others’ experiences to create new health measures that are more meaningful, helpful, and relevant.

ORE was launched in 2013 as an online hub for the development of patient-reported outcomes (PROs)—measures used by clinicians to gauge health, disease severity, and quality of life. Since then, thousands of PatientsLikeMe members have given researchers feedback on measures relating to hypertension, treatment burden, diabetes and appetite, and primary palliative care. There were six pilot studies fielded on ORE last year and, while response goals varied from study to study, on average researchers using ORE collected 100 percent of their required responses in less than a week’s time. PatientsLikeMe’s Vice President of Innovation Paul Wicks said that’s far faster than the average 6-12 months it can take to gather similar data via in-person meetings or telephone and web-based questionnaires.

“We’re only beginning to see how ORE can simplify and speed up the research process, and how our members’ experience with more than 2,000 conditions can help researchers more clearly hear the patient voice,” Wicks said. “Now, we’ll be able to work alongside patients as they shape the next generation of research tools and lead future advancements in the research process.”

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), whose 2013 grant of $1.9 million funded the platform’s start, will accelerate ORE’s innovative approach to developing measures with an additional $2.4 million grant.

“We are eager to invest in innovation that explores how to put patients more firmly in the driver’s seat of their care and of discovery in medicine,” said RWJF Senior Program Officer Paul Tarini. “We’re excited to see the potential impact that patients can have in clinical care and research with ORE’s new phase.”

Patients who want to ensure research goes in a direction that addresses their needs and concerns and who have an idea for a new measure are invited to apply at https://www.openresearchexchange.com/patients.

About PatientsLikeMe

PatientsLikeMe® (www.patientslikeme.com) is a patient network that improves lives and a real-time research platform that advances medicine. Through the network, patients connect with others who have the same disease or condition and track and share their own experiences. In the process, they generate data about the real-world nature of disease that help researchers, pharmaceutical companies, regulators, providers, and nonprofits develop more effective products, services and care. With more than 250,000 members, PatientsLikeMe is a trusted source for real-world disease information and a clinically robust resource that has published more than 40 peer-reviewed research studies. Visit us at www.patientslikeme.com or follow us via our blog, Twitter or Facebook. 

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve the health and health care of all Americans. We are striving to build a national culture of health that will enable all Americans to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at www.rwjf.org/twitter or on Facebook at www.rwjf.org/facebook.


PatientsLikeMe and Sage Bionetworks launch open science study for people with Parkinson’s Disease

Posted February 5th, 2014 by

Companies Partner With TED Fellow Dr. Max Little to Map the Severity of the Disease

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.— February 5, 2014PatientsLikeMe and the nonprofit research organization Sage Bionetworks announced today the launch of a new crowdsourced study to develop voice analysis tools that both researchers and people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) can use to track PD disease progression.

In collaboration with TED Fellow Dr. Max Little, the Patient Voice Analysis (PVA) project will for the first time combine­­­ data from two sources: phone-based voice recordings that Dr. Little’s software collects and analyzes to detect markers of PD; and information reported by patients using PatientsLikeMe’s Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (PDRS), a tool that documents patients’ answers to questions that measure treatment effectiveness and disease progression.

Both sets of data will be analyzed by the PVA team composed of Dr. Little and scientists from PatientsLikeMe and Sage Bionetworks. In later phases of the project, the de-identified data sets will be available to the broader research community on Sage Bionetworks’ cloud-based computational research platform (www.synapse.org). By crowdsourcing the analysis, the PVA team hopes to identify relationships between voice markers (like tremors in speech) and clinical signs of Parkinson’s disease (such as tremors in the body) so that it becomes possible to monitor patients’ progression with a short phone call. Current monitoring efforts for PD typically require patients to undergo multiple lab visits that cost both time and money.

“We want to democratize the process of monitoring disease progression and return the results to patients as quickly as possible, so they are empowered to make the best decisions,” said PatientsLikeMe Vice President of Innovation Paul Wicks, Ph.D.. “We invite anyone who has PD to take part and join PatientsLikeMe, so they can stay informed about their condition and generate new insights about this disease,” said Wicks.

Dr. Stephen Friend, President and Founder of Sage Bionetworks, echoed Wicks’s enthusiasm for the collaboration. “We are so excited by this opportunity to work together with Dr. Little and PatientsLikeMe. If successful, I fully expect that Dr. Little’s voice software will be what PD patients and their families the world over use to monitor themselves in real-time, and thereby gain insights on how to better manage their own health.”

For more information on the Patient Voice Analysis Project visit: www.patientslikeme.com/join/pva

About PatientsLikeMe

PatientsLikeMe® (www.patientslikeme.com) is a patient network that improves lives and a real-time research platform that advances medicine. Through the network, patients connect with others who have the same disease or condition and track and share their own experiences. In the process, they generate data about the real-world nature of disease that help researchers, pharmaceutical companies, regulators, providers, and nonprofits develop more effective products, services and care. With more than 250,000 members, PatientsLikeMe is a trusted source for real-world disease information and a clinically robust resource that has published more than 40 peer-reviewed research studies. Visit us at www.patientslikeme.com or follow us via our blog, Twitter or Facebook.

About Sage Bionetworks 

Sage Bionetworks (http://sagebase.org/) is a nonprofit biomedical research organization, founded in 2009, with a vision to promote innovations in personalized medicine by enabling a community-based approach to scientific inquiries and discoveries. In pursuit of this Mission, Sage Bionetworks is working with others to assemble an information Commons for biomedicine:

  1. That is supported by an open compute space (Synapse: www.synapse.org)
  2. That supports open research collaborations and innovative DREAM Challenges.
  3. That empowers citizens and patients with the tools they need to partner with researchers and share their data through Sage’s BRIDGE platform (http://sagebase.org/bridge/) to drive the research studies that matter most to them.

Sage Bionetworks is located on the campus of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, and is supported through a portfolio of philanthropic donations, competitive research grants, and commercial partnerships.

CONTACTS

Lori Scanlon
PatientsLikeMe
Office: +1 617.229.6643
Mobile: +1 774.217.1330
lscanlon@patientslikeme.com

Thea Norman
Sage Bionetworks
Office: +1 206.667.3092
Mobile:  +1 858.997.8598
thea.norman@sagebase.org


Social media users say ‘yes’ to sharing health data

Posted January 23rd, 2014 by

There are some new survey results that just came out from the Institute of Medicine’s Evidence Communication Innovation Collaborative (ECIC) that show social media users give the stamp of approval to sharing health data. (A big, public shout out to the more than 2,000 PatientsLikeMe members who participated in the survey.) It’s very exciting to see the voices of so many in the community having such an impact.

Check out the results below and read more about it in the PatientsLikeMe newsroom.

 


Can patients become innovators? Rishi Bhalerao from PatientsLikeMe speaks at TEDx Springfield 2013

Posted December 11th, 2013 by

Rishi Bhalerao, our Program Director of Client Services, recently spoke about patient innovation at the 2013 TEDx conference in Springfield, MA. Rishi talked about how the path to innovation begins right with patients because they are the ones who live with a condition day-in and day-out. Their sharing helps bridge the gap from patient to doctor to provider, and through measuring their own progress, patients can learn from each other and improve their lives together.


PatientsLikeMe Unveils New Tool to Match Patients with Clinical Trials Worldwide

Posted March 13th, 2013 by

Launch at European NHS Healthcare Innovation Expo Comes as PatientsLikeMe Chairman Calls for Revolution in Disease Measurement

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. —  — The U.S.-based patient network and real-time research platform PatientsLikeMe unveils its global clinical trials tool today at Europe’s Healthcare Innovation Expo 2013, hosted by the National Health Service (NHS). The free tool, unveiled today by Research Director Paul Wicks Ph.D., draws on open data to match patients from around the globe with clinical trials based on their condition and location. The U.S. prototype was launched last year and has already helped thousands of patients find suitable clinical trials.  The tool is available at http://www.patientslikeme.com/clinical_trials.

Last week, PatientsLikeMe Co-founder and Chairman Jamie Heywood spoke about innovative solutions to healthcare at the 2013 Nuffield Trust Health Policy Summit in London. Nuffield Trust is an independent source of evidence-based research and policy analysis for improving health care in the UK. Heywood returns to London tomorrow to speak on the Expo’s Masterclass Stage about the importance of measurement in building a learning health system.

In his Nuffield speech, Heywood called for a “revolution in measurement,” or what he calls “measurement-based medicine.” He adds, “We should measure the severity of each condition and its impact on the patient. The measurement should support the patient in life choices, clinicians in care choices and researchers in learning what’s effective. And every patient should be measured as part of the care process to the degree appropriate for the severity of their condition, so that their experience can be used to guide the next patient.”


New Efforts Underway to Improve Care for Veterans

Posted January 22nd, 2013 by

With financial support from UCB, the Department of Veterans Affairs and PatientsLikeMe will study patient-reported outcomes.

Today, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Epilepsy Centers of Excellence (ECoE), biopharmaceutical company UCB and health data-sharing website PatientsLikeMe announce a new study to better understand what factors improve health outcomes for veterans with epilepsy.  The ECoE has recently completed a pilot study focused on collecting and sharing real world, patient-reported data on seizure frequency and severity, treatment adherence, patient and physician dialogue and overall quality of life. The study is now open and available to all veterans living with epilepsy at www.poemstudy.org.

“This collaborative effort, with partners from government and private industry, provides an exciting opportunity to improve the outcomes of the thousands of veterans with epilepsy. Our work together may also deliver insights into how we can improve the care for anyone with epilepsy,” says study lead and ECoE’s John Hixson , M.D.

As part of their initial partnership to help epilepsy patients, which began in 2010, PatientsLikeMe and UCB conducted a study of members of the PatientsLikeMe epilepsy community that showed that people with epilepsy who joined PatientsLikeMe better understood their own seizures and improved adherence to their medications.1,2 The new study of veterans will integrate validated clinical outcome measures alongside the patient-reported benefits of the online PatientsLikeMe community. The community platform allows patients to update their physician on aspects of their epilepsy, such as changes in symptoms and medication side effects, and enables physicians to view this patient data prior to clinic visits. The goal is to provide a complementary support system that enhances clinic visits and improves patient outcomes.

UCB, a leader in epilepsy, is providing the funding for the study. “We are committed to improving the standard of care for people living with epilepsy. We believe that this collaboration will address some of the unique challenges faced by veterans impacted by epilepsy and will be a model for other providers of care,” says Patty Fritz , Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Operations at UCB.

According to the ECoE, approximately 5.6 million veterans visit VA Medical Centers each year, and approximately 66,000 of these veterans are diagnosed with seizures or epilepsy. Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder defined as two or more unprovoked seizures.3

Adds Jamie Heywood , co-founder and chairman of PatientsLikeMe, “This is a great opportunity to validate our earlier findings, which revealed that epilepsy patients using our website reduced side effects, increased compliance and reduced ER visits. Our partnership further demonstrates how committed UCB and the VA are to advancing innovation in health care. Collaborations like this will build the foundation for a patient-centric future in medicine.”

References
1. Wicks, P., Keininger, D. L., Massagli, M. P., de la Loge, C., Brownstein, C., Isojarvi, J., & Heywood, J. (2011). Perceived benefits of sharing health data between people with epilepsy on an online platform. Epilepsy & Behavior.
2. De la Loge, C., Massagli, M., Wicks, P. PatientsLikeMe®, a data-sharing online community: benefits for patients with epilepsy. Presented at the 63rd Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology (April 9-16 2011), Honolulu, USA.
3. Epilepsy Foundation. About Epilepsy. http://www.epilepsyfoundation.org/aboutepilepsy/. Accessed 9/13/12

About PatientsLikeMe
PatientsLikeMe® (www.patientslikeme.com) is the world’s leading online health data sharing platform. PatientsLikeMe® creates new knowledge by charting the real-world course of disease through the shared experiences of patients. While patients interact to help improve their outcomes, the data they provide helps researchers learn how these diseases act in the real world and accelerate the discovery of new, more effective treatments. [Follow company news on Twitter.com/PatientsLikeMe and http://blog.patientslikeme.com]

About ECoE
The VA has funded the Epilepsy Centers of Excellence (http://www.epilepsy.va.gov/). The Centers of Excellence are charged with: (1) establishing a national system of care to all veterans with epilepsy, (2) educating veterans and others in their lives impacted by epilepsy about high quality epilepsy care, (3) providing health professional education and training in order to deliver the highest quality of standard of care to veterans with epilepsy, (4) utilizing national VA and other databases in order to inform providers and policy makers in Central Office about health care delivery and health policy decisions, (5) conducting state-of-the-art research about epilepsy, and (6) implementing an informatics backbone to meet the above objectives.

About UCB
UCB, Brussels, Belgium (www.ucb.com) is a global biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of innovative medicines and solutions to transform the lives of people living with severe diseases of the immune system or of the central nervous system. With more than 8,500 people in about 40 countries, the company generated revenue of EUR 3.2 billion in 2011. UCB is listed on Euronext Brussels (symbol: UCB).



Innovating Healthcare Through Shared Patient Knowledge

Posted December 12th, 2012 by

What happens when a patient finds another patient like them – for example, someone the same age with the same disease taking the same treatments?  Problems get solved, says PatientsLikeMe Co-Founder and Chairman Jamie Heywood.

Tune in below to hear more of Jamie’s thoughts in his interview with Boston.com, the online home of the Boston Globe, as part of an ongoing series called “The Innovators.” From the front door of our offices in Cambridge’s Kendall Square to the engineering team’s color-coded whiteboard, take Jamie’s insider tour of PatientsLikeMe headquarters and learn more about our mission of transforming healthcare.

The Innovators: Patients Like Me, Meet James Heywood, Innovator, Chairman and Co-Founder from REEL Entrepreneurs, Inc on Vimeo.

For other recent media highlights, visit our Press page.


How Social Media Is Changing Research (Part II): A Guest Post by MS Clinical Trial Participant and Blogger Jeri Burtchell

Posted September 13th, 2012 by

Today’s guest post is written by PatientsLikeMe member Jeri Burtchell (TickledPink), who has been living with multiple sclerosis (MS) for 13 years.  A tie dye apparel store owner and mother of two, she writes a blog entitled “Gilenya and Me:  My Story of Being an MS Patient, a Hypochondriac and a Guinea Pig.”  Her patient advocacy and social media presence led to her being invited to speak the Disruptive Innovations conference taking place in Boston this week.

Read Part I of Jeri’s guest post first!

MS Patient, Blogger and Activist Jeri Burtchell (TickledPink at PatientsLikeMe)

Because blogging a clinical trial from start to finish was unheard of, I attracted the interest of not only patients, but those in charge of clinical trials. They are interested in the impact of social media on clinical trials, and how they can utilize it to their benefit. Sites such as personal blogs, FacebookTwitter, and PatientsLikeMe are here to stay and people naturally want to share information.

I got a direct message on Twitter from Craig Lipset, who is Head of Clinical Innovation, Worldwide Research & Development for Pfizer. Social media brought us together to have a conversation about research that never could have taken place before the Internet. Everyone is more connected and approachable now. Naturally, I blogged about it.

But that was just beginning.  Tomorrow, September 14th, at 9:45 a.m. , I will be speaking along with Craig at the Disruptive Innovations conference, where the leaders in pharmaceutical research will be gathering to share ideas and come up with innovative ways of conducting clinical trials that take the “ePatient” into consideration. The 30-minute segment is entitled “Patient Leaders as Key Stakeholders in Clinical Trials,” and I will be there to represent – and put a human face to – clinical trial patients everywhere.

Knowing this is a chance of a lifetime for a trial patient to have the researchers as their audience, I wanted to reach out to those who have participated in past or current trials. My question to them is: “If you could ask or tell researchers just one thing about your own experience as a trial patient, what would that be?”

I plan to attend this conference and speak on behalf of all patients and put a face to the humans behind the data. I want to show them that we are connected now more than ever by social media. Researchers need to harness that power to their benefit. Soon they may use it to recruit and retain trial participants. I would like to see them provide a monitored gathering place for these trial patients to reduce the spread of misinformation as patients share data.

How Many of the 35,000+ Clinical Trials Currently Recruiting Do You Qualify for?  Use PatientsLikeMe's Clinical Trials Search Tool to Find Out!

To people who are considering a trial I recommend using tools like PatientsLikeMe and ClinicalTrials.gov to stay informed about ongoing research and find a doctor willing to support your interest in participating. Remember that not every trial will culminate in a drug that wins FDA approval. By joining a clinical trial you will be taking risks, but you may also be reaping benefits long before the general public will have access to the drug. Never forget that you are a pioneer and by entering a trial you are giving the greatest gift possible. Without volunteers we would have no medical advancements.

I hope that researchers never forget the impact they are having on the lives of people everywhere. They aren’t just going to work every day; they are the makers of miracles. Often patients are joining these trials as a last resort. The work of researchers gives us all promise for a brighter future.

I hope that patients everywhere will take one clear message away from this: NEVER GIVE UP! It would have been so easy that day to end it all. I was depressed and certain my life could get nothing but worse. But, by choosing to fight, I have changed my life forever and doors continue to open for me. By reaching out through social media I know I am not alone. You never know what tomorrow may bring, so don’t give up on today!

Editor’s Note:  Jeri isn’t the only PatientsLikeMe member blogging about her experience in a clinical trial.  See our interview with PGen study participant PF Anderson for another patient’s chronicle!


How Social Media Is Changing Research (Part I): A Guest Post by MS Clinical Trial Participant and Blogger Jeri Burtchell

Posted September 12th, 2012 by

Today’s guest post is written by PatientsLikeMe member Jeri Burtchell (TickledPink), who has been living with multiple sclerosis (MS) for 13 years.  A tie dye apparel store owner and mother of two, she writes a blog entitled “Gilenya and Me:  My Story of Being an MS Patient, a Hypochondriac and a Guinea Pig.”  Her patient advocacy and social media presence led to her being invited to speak the Disruptive Innovations conference taking place in Boston this week.

MS Patient, Blogger and Activist Jeri Burtchell (TickledPink at PatientsLikeMe)

One rainy day in April 2007, I was lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, talking myself out of suicide. I was having another MS relapse. This time it was attacking the part of my brain responsible for controlling emotion. As a result I was having panic attacks almost daily. Along with the emotional issues, I was also having trouble walking and horrible spasticity.

I had been diagnosed with MS for eight years at that point and, although I was on one of the FDA approved treatments, I was continuing to relapse three to four times a year. It felt like standing in the ocean; every time I would stand up and catch my breath, another “wave” of MS knocked me back down.

Deciding against suicide, I made some proactive choices that led to my meeting with the lead investigator of the Fingolimod (now marketed as Gilenya) clinical trials in Jacksonville, Florida. At my first appointment we discussed the Fingolimod trial called TRANSFORMS. I took the informed consent document home and went over all the risks and benefits with my family. After extensive baseline testing, I officially started the trial on August 20, 2007, a.k.a. “Randomization Day”, when I received my first dose of medication. I would return for regular testing many times over the next several years.

Joining the trial changed my life. I was very fortunate that I did not suffer any major side effects, and I am happy to say that my last MS attack to date was the very one which led me to contemplate suicide that day in April 2007.

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I was fascinated by the research during the trial. They did a lot of testing, and I have never felt more assured that my overall health was being tracked, observed and cared for as I did in the clinical trial. Since I did not have medical insurance, this was a plus on top of benefits I might be getting if on the real drug.

When the trial began, I wanted to know what to expect. I tried searching the Internet for a clinical trial from a patient’s perspective and could find nothing. I decided to share my experience with the world so others considering a trial might have their own fears put at ease. Thus my blog, www.gilenyaandme.com, was born.

I blogged all of my checkups and along the way something unexpected happened. Many people wrote to thank me for being the reason they felt able to overcome their own fears and join a clinical trial. We began connecting and sharing our personal experiences in a way only the Internet could enable.

Read Part II of Jeri’s guest post!


$70,000 at Stake in the “Reporting Safety Events Challenge”

Posted August 22nd, 2012 by

How serious is the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) about increasing patient safety?   So serious that they are running a contest challenging the best and brightest developers to create a platform that makes it easier to report a patient safety event electronically.

Learn More About the "Reporting Safety Events Challenge" for Developers Here

The Reporting Patient Safety Events Challenge is offering $70,000 worth of prizes, with $50,000 (and a demo opportunity) awarded to the first place winner, $15,000 to the second place winner and $5,000 to third place winner.  The submission deadline is August 31, 2012.  Learn more about the contest guidelines and 30+ participating developer teams here.

“Ideally, we would live in a world of optimal care delivery,” says the ONC.  “Physicians, nurses and care delivery organizations across the country are continuously working to minimize and eliminate errors.  But, until this ideal world exists, we need to invest in infrastructure that helps enable better care quality, risk management and shared learning – all to ensure better care for patients.”

PatientsLikeMe fully supports this goal, which is why we introduced our first-of-its-kind adverse event reporting platform in 2009.  As part of a two-year pilot program, our members with multiple sclerosis (MS) were able to submit adverse events related to a medication, medical product or medical device directly to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s MedWatch program through PatientsLikeMe.  Our system automatically pulled relevant data from the patient’s profile into a FDA 3500 form, dramatically reducing completion time.

Since then, we’ve also developed an integrated and comprehensive drug safety reporting platform that monitors patient data for potential adverse events when we are collaborating with a sponsoring partner in designated disease areas. These data are then clinically triaged and curated using the Medical Dictionary for Regulatory Activities (MedDRA), an industry standard terminology. Adverse events are submitted to our partners electronically in FDA 3500A format to meet regulatory timelines and reporting criteria.  Of note, PatientsLikeMe is the only online health data platform in social media that has successfully passed multiple drug safety audits conducted by our partners’ pharmacovigilance and drug safety experts.

What’s the difference between patient safety and drug safety?  And what do we see ahead in this critical area of healthcare?  Tune in to a podcast with PatientsLikeMe Chairman and Co-Founder Jamie Heywood on this very topic.


Redesigning Healthcare: Guest Post by Kirt Hine

Posted August 17th, 2012 by

Today’s guest post is written by Kirt Hine, who was a research intern at PatientsLikeMe in June and July.  On his last day, Kirt gave a presentation to the entire company about his experience at the 2012 Healthcare Experience Design Conference, held in Boston last March.  It made such an impression that we asked him to share his takeaways on the blog.

Healthcare Experience Design Conference (HxD) 2012

The Healthcare Experience Design Conference, known in short as “HxD,” is somewhat of an anomaly.  It deviates from traditional healthcare conferences in that you have seasoned healthcare professionals sitting alongside academics, graphic designers, product experts, marketing agents, and entrepreneurs.  You know that feeling you get when you find something that you didn’t even know was missing?  That’s the way I felt attending HxD 2012.  It’s a true melting pot of professionals, and it hits an innovative sweet spot in the ever changing world of healthcare.

Preventative health, open data, electronic medical records and mobile health were just a few of the themes buzzing around HxD 2012.  But for me, the overall theme of the conference was the inherent trend of consumer-centered health.  We are witnessing a paradigm shift in healthcare – one in which patients are becoming customers.  With technological innovations and proper user interfaces, these customers are taking their health into their own hands.

Out of over two dozen speakers, there were a handful that stood out. Joseph Flaherty, senior manager of Agamatrix, gave an intriguing presentation about improving healthcare outcomes. Joseph is a seasoned hardware developer, and his presence was a great example of HxD’s professional diversity. Todd Park, CTO of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HSS), gave a keynote address titled Unleashing the Power of Open Data and Innovation to Improve Health. It was honestly groundbreaking. This tweet by conference speaker John Yesko sums it up pretty well:  “@todd_park is killing it at the HxD conference.  Future of government?”

Speaking of John Yesko, he is the user experience director at Walgreens. His talk, based on his experience and achievements in the retail pharmacy setting, was a wise take on the fundamental principles of consumer self service in healthcare.  On the mobile health front, speaker Josh Clark debunked mobile design myths. “There’s no such thing as mobile web,” he said while talking about how to make health apps more universal for users. Devorah Klein, a Boston-based designer, echoed these thoughts and said that this is especially true when designing for behavior change – an increasingly common goal in healthcare.

Athena Health President, CEO and Co-Founder Jonathan Bush Speaking at HxD 2012

Athena Health President, CEO and Co-Founder Jonathan Bush, seen on the right in the image above, gave an entertaining reality check during his closing keynote interview.  I remember thinking to myself that the primary problem in healthcare is determining what our healthcare problems truly are.  With modern technology though, society is getting closer to solving those problems.  Fittingly, HxD’s mission statement reads: “We have the power to positively affect human lives through improved design technology in the healthcare arena.  We’re bringing together the best and brightest to explore the toughest challenges and present new solutions.”  And from my point of view, the conference succeeded at that.

It is impossible to properly acknowledge all of the noteworthy speakers and topics in this post.  But thanks to modern technology and sponsors, much of the conference is available for free on the web. HxD’s site offers a fun, interactive and illustrated “walk through” of the 2012 conference that includes slide decks, videos and abstracts of the speakers I mentioned above.  Additionally, HxD’s video page lists all of the speakers alongside videos of their talks.

If any of this sparks your interest, I encourage you to attend HxD next year.  The dates are March 24-26, 2013. Mark your calendars, and maybe we’ll see you there.