Earlier this month, PatientsLikeMe was fortunate enough to attend the 64th Annual Meeting of the American Epilepsy Society in San Antonio, Texas. We were there to spread the word about PatientsLikeMe to some 4,000 attendees including epileptologists (physicians specializing in the treatment of epilepsy), neurologists, nurses, and researchers. We had a great spot on the booth of our partner UCB, which featured a large display for us to show the site to conference delegates and answer any questions they might have. Some of the typical questions we got were:
- “Is this free for patients to use?” Answer: yes!
- “How do patients record their seizures?” Answer: they can very quickly and easily enter both the frequency and severity of each kind of seizure they had during the week
- “Can I send you some patients?” Answer: definitely!
- “What kind of research can you do with the site?” Answer: stay tuned…
We were also there to present a poster comparing our data to another large data set, the Pharmetrics insurance claims database. Now, we know reading about statistics isn’t the most thrilling of subjects, but the idea was to answer another important question we hear all the time: “How biased is your community?” Biases are important because they affect the quality of the research you can do and the conclusions you can draw from your findings. In our case, an early comparison of our data against a claims database suggests that our community members are more likely than the wider epilepsy population to be: i) female, ii) in their 30s-40s (more people tend to experience their first seizure either in infancy or old age), and iii) on multiple medications to treat their seizures (“polytherapy”). We want to be transparent about understanding our biases and sharing them with the world, so you can click on the poster below to see the exact findings we presented.
The conference was also a great opportunity to meet other leaders in the online epilepsy space, such as our friends at CURE Epilepsy.org, Epilepsy.com, Seizuretracker.com, and to meet with researchers from an exciting online project called the “Managing Epilepsy Well Network.” In many ways epilepsy is leading the way in online resources and we hope next year we might even convene a special meeting for us all to share ideas on the best ways to help this important patient community.
Our last opportunity to spread the word about epilepsy fell upon our Chairman and Co-Founder Jamie Heywood. He spoke to some of today’s leading epilepsy doctors in the world about how we can help patients answer the question: “Given my status, what is the best outcome I can hope to achieve, and how do I get there?”