5 posts tagged “shared data”

What Is Health?

Posted February 20th, 2013 by

It seems like a basic question, but at PatientsLikeMe, we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what it means.  Check out Co-Founder and Chairman Jamie Heywood’s thought-provoking presentation below at the Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue’s “Future of Human Longevity” conference.

Can you really understand concepts such as health, mobility or well-being without measuring or comparing them?  See why Jamie argues that you can’t – and also why one’s “health span” may be more important than one’s “lifespan.”  Click the image below to tune in.

Click on this screenshot to begin the slideshow presentation.

*After clicking the image above, select the “08:45” link to your left to start the presentation.


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.

Click on the box 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.


The Importance of Open Access: An Interview with Patient Advocate Graham Steel

Posted July 9th, 2012 by

A native of Glasgow, Scotland, Graham Steel is a longtime “Guest Researcher Member” of PatientsLikeMe.  Following the death of his brother Richard at the age of 33 from a rare condition known as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD), Graham became involved in patient advocacy work, and most recently, in lobbying for open access to published scientific research.  Find out how this active blogger and Tweeter developed a passion for data sharing in our interview below.

Patient Advocate and Open Access Supporter Graham Steel

1.  Tell us how you first got involved in patient advocacy work.

As per my PatientsLikeMe profile, this started in 2001. Two years after the loss of my only sibling to vCJD, I was approached by a UK organization called the Human BSE Foundation to act as their Vice-Chair. Quite a daunting task for a 33-year-old!! I was involved in that capacity until 2005. Over the years, my interests in science and information sharing to this day continue to diversify.

I’m a great believer in complete openness and transparency as anyone who knows me in real life or via the Internet knows. One of my key assets seems to be “connecting people,” something that I started doing at the age of four. I enjoy making new connections and this is made so much easier with the advent of the web.

2.  You’ve been a member of PatientsLikeMe since 2007.  What key changes have you seen the site go through in that time?

I am not 100% sure where I first found out about PatientsLikeMe but it was most probably via the main ALS TDI Forum. I’m not a “regular” PatientsLikeMe forum poster with only 197 posts since February 2007. Some key changes that spring to mind: the addition of a PatientsLikeMe blog was a great development. A couple of years ago, a “Share This” button was added to the blog making it much, much easier to share content via social networking sites, etc.

The PatientsLikeMe platform itself has expanded in many ways since 2007. At that time, if I recall correctly, ALS/MND was the only disease covered. Now, that has increased to >1,200 conditions, so that alone is a major development. New features get rolled out on a regular basis and they are accompanied with good and clear explanations. It’s also much easier to ‘drill down’ to/for specific content, and the site is generally simpler to navigate than back in 2007, IMHO.

The Logo for the Open Access Movement

3.  You have recently campaigned for open access publishing. Why is this important to patients?

Yes, as of late 2006, I stumbled upon my first Open Access (OA) Manuscript, as it happened via Public Library of Science Pathogens. Up until that point, I had assumed that ALL Scientific, Technical & Medical (STM) content was locked up behind paywalls. As such, it was very enlightening to discover an alternative to traditional publishing. As matters stand though, only ~15% of Peer Reviewed STM Manuscripts are OA, and subscription-based publishing is still “the norm.” The reason that I became part of the OA Community was to use my networking skills to make more people aware of and involved in OA. OA itself however is just one cog (but a significant one) in the wheel of Open Science!!

“Why is OA important to patients?” Where does one start?! One of the best recent responses to that question comes from PatientsLikeMe’s very own Dr. Paul Wicks with his guest post over at the Public Library of Science Blogs dated June 14th, 2012, and entitled “Open Access Is Not For Scientists. It’s For Patients.”

Two key sections of that post that stood out for myself most were:

“In the past six years, we’ve found that more and more patients are trying to access research studies written about them, including studies where they were participants. In addition, they are increasingly capable of understanding them. Yet closed access is locking them out of better understanding their conditions and their choices.”

And…

“As a society, we need to recognize that our understanding of disease doesn’t belong to science. It belongs to the patients (who are also usually our funders, by the way), and we should exist only to serve them.”

4.  What do you see as being critical for the future of patient advocacy?

The Internet, Open Data and The Semantic Web. In terms of the sharing of data from patients, PatientsLikeMe was the first platform (that I am aware of) that made it easy for patients to share their data online with others. Whilst this data is “open,” it is open to the PatientsLikeMe community (and selected others) but not open at large. As stated in June this year by Sir Paul Nurse, “the President of the Royal Society said there was a need to put safeguards in place to protect confidentiality.” Sir Paul said that in reality no data was “totally secure” and that doctors already relied on personal information for treatment. “If you want a complete guarantee of privacy you would have to diagnose and treat yourself,” he said. (Also, see the recent “Science as an open enterprise” report by The Royal Society).

John Wilbanks Speaking at TED Global.  Photo Credit:  James Duncan Davidson.

In terms of the semantic web and link data, entities such as http://linkeddata.org/ and http://www.linkeddatatools.com/ have a lot of potential in terms of what we can do in a linked up world. Also in June, in his talk at TED Global entitled “Unreasonable People Unite,” John Wilbanks made a number of interesting points. From the TED Blog:

“Wilbanks’ proposal is a medical commons, a way for people to gather this medical data and share it freely. People are neurotic about privacy and keeping control of their data. ‘Some of us like to share as control.’ And, he believes we live in an age where people agree with him. He mentions a study run at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. ‘It’s not the most science-positive state in America,’ he says. ‘Only 5% wanted out. People like to share if given the opportunity and choice.’ And not using this data to understand health issues through mathematical analysis ‘is like having a giant set of power tools but leaving them not plugged in while using hand saws.’”


How to Thrive: Takeaways from TEDx Cambridge

Posted November 30th, 2011 by

Patient Experience Manager Kate Brigham and I attended TEDx Cambridge last week, a one-day event full of thought-provoking and inspirational talks about Ideas Worth Spreading (TED’s mission). The participants didn’t want to just survive, they wanted to Thrive, which was this year’s theme. Speakers, including our President and Co-Founder Ben Heywood, enlightened the crowd with how we can help ourselves in small ways and inspire others in the process.

The Entrance to TEDx Cambridge 2011

Throughout four sessions packed with 30+ speakers on the topics of Mind, Body, We, and Beyond, many shared how people can improve themselves individually, by being part of a community, and by giving back to others. Some advice is expected—sleep more, drink less caffeine, eat more vegetables, try yoga—but other points were more novel.

For example, we were encouraged by Matt Daniell to try something, anything, for a month as “time becomes much more memorable when undertaking 30 day challenges.” Using research on the effects of body posture on hormones, Amy Cuddy shared that doing a power pose for just a few minutes (like putting your feet up on your desk) is minimal effort, but can benefit your brain as well as others’ perception of you. (Note: she recommended we put our feet up in private, not in a meeting!) One of the lessons that seemed to resonate most was from Priya Parker, who encouraged the audience to not worry about keeping all options open—that it’s FOMO (the fear of missing out) and FOBO (the fear of better opportunities) that contribute to many people’s anxiety and stress.

PatientsLikeMe President and TEDx Speaker Ben Heywood (Center) Along with Brothers Jamie Heywood (Left) and Stephen Heywood (Right), Whose ALS Diagnosis Inspired the Creation of PatientsLikeMe

In addition to Ben talking about PatientsLikeMe, other speakers shared the importance of connecting people with others like them, making data more accessible and empowering patients to take control of their health. Greg Epstein and Jesus Gerena, although in different fields (a Humanist Chaplain and Activist, respectively) arrived at the same conclusion: that when people come together and help one another, the entire group is empowered and everyone benefits.

Our ears also perked up when Sandy Pentland, a social scientist at MIT, discussed how important data is and stated that “personal data is the new oil of the Internet.” Further affirming the importance of data, John Sheffield talked about how he wants to make sure that genomics analysis is accessible, repeatable and shareable. He’s found in his field of data architecture that’s it’s all about connections with others, a point of view we certainly share!

Heart Patient and TEDx Speaker Hugo Campos

One story that perhaps applies most to what we’re doing here at PatientsLikeMe was presented by Hugo Campos, a heart patient who is literally on a quest to liberate data from his own heart. Although he has a high-tech cardiac defibrillator, he doesn’t have access to the data collected by this device. We’re with you, Hugo: “We all have the right to our own health information!”

At PatientsLikeMe, we help people Thrive by connecting patients so that they can share their experiences, find others like them and, together, learn how to best improve their health. From disease-specific outcome scores to our Quality of Life survey and InstantMe tool, we offer all sorts of ways to monitor your health and assess the impact of various treatments and interventions.

How do you help yourself and others Thrive? Share your thoughts in the comments section.  Also, check out the video of Ben’s talk.

PatientsLikeMe member emorgan


One for All: The Opportunity to Make Patients’ Lives Better

Posted June 3rd, 2011 by

“Patients are giving us their data, and we need to honor that by doing something that advances their disease, their cause, their power in the world.” – Jamie Heywood

This week marks the fourth and final installment of our latest video series, which explores what the recent changes at PatientsLikeMe mean for you as well as the entire medical establishment. (Missed the first three interviews? Catch up on what PatientsLikeMe executives Ben Heywood, David S. Williams III and Paul Wicks had to say.)

In today’s video, PatientsLikeMe Co-Founder and Chairman Jamie Heywood talks about the next steps in realizing the goal of PatientsLikeMe: to help all patients determine how they can affect their health outcomes and live the longest, most productive lives possible. What will it take to do that? Tune in to hear his vision of how healthcare could evolve as quickly as technology, provided that the concept of shared data is fully embraced.

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