21 posts tagged “social media”

Patients as Partners: Cyrena on connecting through social media

Posted June 29th, 2016 by

Earlier this month, Team of Advisors member Cyrena shared how she relies on many of the Partnership Principles in her interactions with her physicians. Today, she offers some insight into a different type of relationship in our health journeys — the ones we have on social media.

In addition to PatientsLikeMe, Cyrena is active on Twitter and Facebook and has used both to connect with other patients who what it’s like to live with bipolar II and lupus. Whether you’re social media-savvy or not, check out how she stays in touch with her virtual community to “exchange advice or just plain empathy” and get involved in patient advocacy.

 

“It’s all about networking”

Many patients live with multiple conditions, but the current nature of illness and treatment forces us to think of our conditions individually. In reality, these conditions interact and influence each other in ways that clinicians may not understand or recognize. Many of these patients end up online and looking for support.

I primarily interact with the chronic illness community on Twitter, but to a lesser extent on Facebook as well. I was an intermittent follower, but I became highly active during my hospitalization for my spinal cord injury in 2014. I didn’t really know any other chronically ill people with either of my conditions, but when I dove into Twitter, I found people with each, both, and so many more. It was exciting to find this virtual community that provided the peer emotional support that I lacked in real life.

The number one form of support that I obtain from interacting with patients online is validation. In physician appointments it is challenging to fit everything that I would like to convey or discuss in 15 to 30 minutes. But when I go online, someone is going through the same thing I am and we can exchange advice or just plain empathy. There is also an extensive patient advocacy community which I have become part of, which gives me the opportunity to not just voice my opinions on how patients are treated in the modern medical system, but also brainstorm with others on how to affect change.

“It was exciting to find this virtual community that provided the peer emotional support that I lacked in real life.”

 

First and foremost, I would recommend that patients interested in partnering with communities in social media recognize that there may be a sizable upfront investment. Twitter is akin to hovering above a massive highway and trying to identify which drivers you want to talk to. You can start by finding the Twitter name of one of the major organizations for your illness(es). Who do they follow? Follow some of those people. Who do they talk to? Follow those people. Start engaging people by sending messages pertaining to a topic of active discussion. Eventually those people start to follow you and your network grows.

Twitter moves very fast, but there are ways to stay engaged and live a normal life. I have a Twitter app on my phone that I check when I’m waiting in line or at the bus stop, and I keep a Twitter tab open in my browser when I’m working so I can pop in and out whenever I need a break from working. I have found the investment to be worth it because I like the rapid turnover of conversation and the opportunity to have a pseudonymous account. Others may prefer using Facebook for forming social media connections. There are thousands of patient groups there. Again, just start by searching for your illness and move from there.

It can seem scary and time consuming, but I’m an introvert and a graduate student. I just needed to find other people out there like me in some way. To quote a phrase I’ve heard endlessly over the past few months, “It’s all about networking!”

 

Share this post on Twitter and help spread the word.


#ChatActChange: empowered to chat, act and make change – together

Posted November 17th, 2015 by

On October 28, Sally Okun, our Vice President for Advocacy, Policy and Patient Safety, participated in a Twitter chat – using the hashtag #ChatActChange – aimed at empowering people living with chronic conditions to advocate for policy change. Hosted by Diabetes Social Media Advocacy (DSMA), other chat participants included policy expert Susan Dentzer, Diabetes Hands Foundation and Novo Nordisk.

The chat generated some great conversation about what it means to be an empowered patient. 186 people joined the discussion, including patients, diabetes influencers and policy experts. 2015-2016 Team of Advisors member Christel, who is living with type 1 diabetes, took part in the chat, as did the American Diabetes Association.   

More than 500 users were reached with the #ChatActChange hashtag, and there were more than 1,154 tweets during the one-hour Twitter chat.

To check out a complete summary of the chat, take a look at this Storify. You can also contribute to the ongoing conversation on Twitter using #ChatActChange.

Let’s be empowered to chat, act and make change – together.

Share this post on Twitter and help spread the word.


Can Social Media Strengthen Science?

Posted March 25th, 2013 by

And more specifically, can it be used to collect patient data, raise investment funds, make scientific data more accurate and even allow regular people to access the world of venture capital?

This was the provocative question posed to a five-person discussion panel at the 2012 Partnering for Cures conference last fall that included several thought leaders, including PatientsLikeMe’s own Sally Okun, RN, MMHS, who was recently promoted to the position of Vice President of Advocacy, Policy and Patient Safety.

“We have a small subset of people on PatientsLikeMe who have found us and who are gaining some expertise at being what might be called citizen scientists,” says Sally.  “But I think the important piece is that there are so many more people out there that we have to reach and help understand that there is access to so much more information than you are currently getting.  And social media is one way of doing that.”

Tune in below for Sally’s full comments and to hear what the other four panelists had to say about the growing use of social media in science.


PatientsLikeMe at Medicine 2.0

Posted September 26th, 2012 by

With more than 500 attendees from 36 countries, the 5th Annual Medicine 2.0 World Congress took place September 15-16th at Harvard Medical School here in Boston.  Among these attendees were several PatientsLikeMe leaders, including keynote speaker Jamie Heywood and conference presenters Sally Okun and Paul Wicks.

The 5th Annual Medicine 2.0 Congress Took Place in Our Home City of Boston

In an unusual twist, all three PatientsLikeMe speakers got to present back-to-back, starting with Co-Founder and Chairman Jamie Heywood’s opening keynote about how his brother Stephen’s experience with ALS shaped his understanding of basic concepts like health, well-being and disease.  He then shared how PatientsLikeMe was founded to help patients like Stephen record and share their symptom and treatment data in a way that is meaningful to them, other patients and researchers. “Human networks are connecting information and data in ways that have never before existed,” he told the crowd.

Next to speak was Dr. Paul Wicks, our Research & Development Director, who gave a presentation entitled “But Will It Scale?  Lessons in Growth from PatientsLikeMe.”  He discussed how PatientsLikeMe evolved from a data-sharing platform for patients with a single disease – ALS – to a general platform serving more than 160,000 patients with more than 1,300 health conditions and a myriad of symptoms.   Important lessons covered included streamlining the research processes, refining the medical ontology and adjusting the business model.

Finally, PatientsLikeMe Health Data Integrity Manager Sally Okun – whose talk was entitled “Patient Voices:  The Power of Shared Knowledge” – then looked at some of the challenges of turning individual stories into shared knowledge.  One of the biggest hurdles:  how do you capture the patient experience in clinical terms, given that patients don’t speak this way?  For example, instead of talking about a “gait disturbance,” patients might report that they are stumbling, limping, dragging a foot or “walking like a drunk.”  (In fact, Sally shared that PatientsLikeMe members have used 35 different terms for this one clinical concept.)

What was the reaction to this trio of talks?  Sally reports, “I think the juxtaposition of Jamie, Paul and me speaking was quite effective.  Our commitment to capturing and honoring the patient voice certainly resonated with the people I spoke with.” Another way to gauge the response – and certainly an apropos one given the conference’s focus on social media – is to examine the Twitter activity generated by these presentations. Here are a few of the 7,000+ (!) Tweets associated with the conference hashtag #med2 that gave shout outs to PatientsLikeMe:

Click Here to See Cassie's Very Cool Sketch!

A Quote From Jamie Heywood's Keynote Address

Sally Okun's Poem Resonated with Susannah Fox and Others

This Quote in Jamie's Talk Got a Lot of Attention

We Like These Big Important Questions About PatientsLikeMe!


How Social Media Helped Me Adjust to My New Life: An ALS Patient Essay

Posted September 17th, 2012 by

Want to connect with and learn from others with ALS?
Join PatientsLikeMe Now! (It’s free)

“Social media is the MOST important means of socialization, communication and education for patients and their caregivers today, particularly with a disease like ALS where our minds are still sharp and active inside our failing bodies.  Sites like PatientsLikeMe, Facebook and other ALS sites allow me to discuss issues, share experiences, research new treatment options and keep up to date on the latest research.”

ALS Patient Susan Speranza

ALS Advocate and Essayist Susan

This summer, the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media sponsored an essay contest for patients and caregivers focused on how they use social media.  The prize?  A scholarship to attend the Social Media Summit, held October 15-19, 2012, in Rochester, Minnesota.

36 essays were submitted, more than 11,000 votes were tallied, and ultimately three scholarship recipients were chosen.  While PatientsLikeMe member Susan Speranza (Susan702) was not among the finalists, we wanted to spotlight her inspiring essay about how social media has become an invaluable part of her life since her diagnosis with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) in July 2011.

Here’s an excerpt describing the aftermath of her diagnosis:

“Last year I was given this diagnosis at the age of 47. I was living a busy, wonderful life with my husband and two children, working as a Physician Assistant (PA) and had just started a PhD program in Public Health. Of course when I went to the neurologist’s office that morning, I already knew it could be nothing else: The Dreaded Disease! After spending the last 20 years practicing medicine and several weeks feverishly searching every website I could find looking for a benign cause, I knew it could be no other. My life came to a screeching halt on that day and I spent the next few weeks isolated, depressed, hopeless, wondering ‘Why Me?” and worrying about the tremendous burden I had just imposed on my family. I desperately needed to adjust my ‘new life’ to this ‘new reality’. Fortunately, social media helped with that adjustment.”

Read Susan’s full essay here and follow this budding ALS advocate on PatientsLikeMe and Twitter.

Want to connect with and learn from others with ALS?
Join PatientsLikeMe Now! (It’s free)


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!


Announcing the “Calling All Types” Campaign for Diabetes Awareness

Posted October 27th, 2011 by

In June, we told you about our new partnership with BBK Worldwide, a pioneer in healthcare communications. Now, we’re excited to report that our first outreach project together is kicking off.

Visit CallingAllTypes.com, a Place for People with Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes to Share Their Stories

In preparation for American Diabetes Month in November, PatientsLikeMe and BBK Worldwide announced today the launch of a new online diabetes health movement entitled “Calling All Types.” This innovative social health initiative encourages people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes to share their real-world experiences and help raise awareness of the disease, which affects 25.8 million children and adults in the US (or 8.3% of the population).

Are you a diabetes patient? Share your thoughts and stories at CallingAllTypes.com. Within seconds, social media outlets including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube will pick up and share your words across the Internet. The goal is to create instantaneous viral awareness that will inform the public, including policy makers and health professionals, about the real toll diabetes takes on individuals and families.  (Check out the video below to learn more.)

In addition to rallying supporters at CallingAllTypes.com, the campaign is focusing much of its initial awareness-raising efforts in Atlanta, Georgia, where diabetes prevalence exceeds the national average by a full percentage point. “We are incorporating a “take a community by storm’ approach,” says Bonnie A. Brescia, founding principal of BBK. For each of the first 10,000 visitors to post a comment at CallingAllTypes.com during November, the campaign will donate $1 to the Atlanta chapter of the American Diabetes Association.

So if you’ve got something to say about diabetes, the fastest-growing chronic disease in US history, don’t hold back. Spread the word today at CallingAllTypes.com. Then, if you haven’t already, join the diabetes patients at PatientsLikeMe who are coming together to share experiences, find others like them and take control of their health.


One for All: Walking the Road Ahead with Both Patients and Industry

Posted May 19th, 2011 by

“You’re the patient who’s taking the medication. But industry can act almost like a friend who’s walking with you. And that relationship has never been the case in healthcare. Never.” – David S. Williams III

Last week, we kicked off our latest video series with an interview with President and Co-Founder Ben Heywood about the “long road” we’re all on together to change the way healthcare works for patients like you.

This week, Chief Marketing Officer and Head of Business Development David S. Williams III offers his perspective on how our industry partners can take part in this collaborative journey. Listen in to hear his thoughts on a new type of patient-industry relationship that is now possible thanks to social media.

Curious what other parties will share this “road” with us? Stay tuned for next week’s video interview with another member of the PatientsLikeMe executive team.


PatientsLikeMe® Poll Reveals Patients Share Health Data Online Prefer to Keep Quiet With Doctors, Employers

Posted April 13th, 2011 by

screen-shot-2011-04-13-at-123447-pmPatients Unveil Top Reasons Not to Share Health Information

CAMBRIDGE, MA–(Marketwire – April 13, 2011) – According to a new PatientsLikeMe® Poll, almost one in three (29%) patients have withheld certain health information from their doctor. Of the 4,364 poll respondents, all of whom are members of PatientsLikeMe’s online health data-sharing community (www.patientslikeme.com), nearly half (47%) indicate that they have chosen not to share certain health information with an employer, while 14% have withheld information from insurance companies.

“Here’s a population of arguably the most open patients, who share detailed data about everything from their treatments to their sex lives on PatientsLikeMe, and yet some of these individuals feel uncomfortable sharing with other stakeholders in healthcare,” says Jamie Heywood, co-founder and chairman of PatientsLikeMe. “If we’re all going to make healthcare better, then it’s time we really understand what’s keeping patients from sharing information. That insight is crucial to improving the system.”

In their poll responses, patients also identified some of the reasons why they chose not to share their health information. Patients’ unwillingness to share certain information with doctors is driven by more emotional triggers. Almost half (44%) say they didn’t tell a doctor about something related to their health because they “didn’t want to be lectured/made to feel bad;” second to that was fear of embarrassment (36%). What aren’t they sharing with doctors? Respondents said symptoms (41%), lifestyle information such as “diet, alcohol, exercise, or smoking” (39%) and failure to take a prescribed medication (29%).

Alternatively, the majority of patients who withheld information from an employer cite more practical implications. Sixty six percent (66%) of patients indicate the top reason as being “none of their employer’s business,” but nearly half (49%) say they are afraid of losing their job and about one-third (35%) are afraid of not getting a promotion. Finally, the individuals who kept certain health information under wraps from their health insurance companies report they did so out of fear of losing coverage (39%), fear of not having a specific treatment or procedure covered (39%) or fear of premiums going up (25%).

The complete PatientsLikeMe® Poll results can be downloaded here.

NOTE TO EDITOR: All poll results must be sourced as originating from PatientsLikeMe®.

Poll Methodology
Between March 22nd and March 29th, PatientsLikeMe invited all members who had been active on the website within the past 90 days to participate in the PatientsLikeMe® Poll; 4,364 members completed the survey. Mean age of respondents was 49 years (SD 12, range 13-84).

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]

PatientsLikeMe member lscanlon PatientsLikeMe member dwilliams


Tell The World: A PatientsLikeMe Year in Review (Part V – Marketing)

Posted January 7th, 2011 by

epilepsytearsheet08With every new member at PatientsLikeMe, there is more data generated for research, more dialogue about individual experiences, and a more expansive support network.  Additionally, with more patients we can become the world’s largest and loudest representative of the patient voice.  To that end, our job in marketing is to share your stories and tell the world about our community to bring in more patients.

Here are highlights of some of the work we did this year to promote your voice and attract the 32,000+ new members we welcomed to the community in 2010.  (Enjoy the video recap below as well.)

Social Outreach

  • With a full year under its belt, 2010 was a big year for the PatientsLikeMeInMotionTM program. With slick new t-shirts and a new sign-up form, the program just about doubled in size from 38 teams in 2009 to 60 teams in 2010.  More than 1,000 people were rocking PatientsLikeMe t-shirts for their disease awareness walks this year and the company donated $14,800+ in our members’ names to almost 50 nonprofit organizations.  (More about our nonprofit partnerships and work we’ve done with them is coming from Molly Cotter next week).  Finally, we launched our PatientsLikeMeinMotionTM Flickr page, which features hundreds of photos of all of you walking for team PatientsLikeMe.
  • In January 2010, PatientsLikeMe launched its first ever podcast called PatientsLikeMeOnCallTM (hosted by our newest marketing team member, Aaron Fleishman). Through a series of podcasts this year, PatientsLikeMe provided insight from our thought leaders on topics most important to you, spotlighted work with partners and gave patients a place for their real voices to be heard. With more than 1,000 subscribers to date, PatientsLikeMeOnCallTM is ready to bring more content to all of our listeners in 2011. Thanks for stopping by and listening!

  • Along with PatientsLikeMeOnCallTM, PatientsLikeMe continued to spotlight what you’re saying, learning and sharing through our blog (yes, we do manage the content for this lovely page!), Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and more. Our Twitter followers continue to grow with more than 2,100 followers. Our Facebook page now has more than 1,000 fans and our YouTube videos have a combined number of 74,258 views total, with 35,469 views this year alone.

Media Coverage:

Throughout the year, PatientsLikeMe was featured in a number of media stories (see our press page) that highlighted how you are making a difference for other patients and the healthcare industry as a whole.  In fact, many of you were able to share your stories with the world – from your disease experiences to your participation on PatientsLikeMe.  Thank you to everyone who contributed!  Some highlights include: Fast Company (“2010 Most Innovative Companies”), Fortune/CNN (“Tweet your chart”), Wall Street Journal (“Scrapers’ Dig Deep for Data on Web”), Fox News videos, Women’s Health (“Feel Sick Click Here”), NPR (“What Happens When People Migrate To The Internet”), New York Times (“When Patients Meet Online”), TIME magazine (“Group Therapy”) as well as articles in Bio-IT World, InformationWeek, Nature Biotechnology, PharmaTimes, and SmartMoney.

Events, Direct Mail and Newsletters
In addition to attending some events (e.g., 2010 Transplant Games, Parkinson’s Unity Walk) to talk directly to patients, PatientsLikeMe also reached out to medical centers (e.g., epilepsy and transplants) to inform physicians about how patients are benefiting from being members of PatientsLikeMe (see above).

Finally, we’re thrilled to hear how much you enjoyed the monthly community newsletters in 2010.  Altogether, we published 90 newsletters this year and featured many of your fellow community members in patient interviews (which also appeared here on the blog). Based on your feedback, we also finally launched an archive section on our site so you can catch up on all the latest and greatest from PatientsLikeMe.

Spreading the word is what we do in marketing, and we can say it is has truly been a pleasure telling the world about all that you do and all that you share through PatientsLikeMe.  2011 will only be better.  Thank you and Happy New Year!

PatientsLikeMe member lscanlon


One for All: The PatientsLikeMe “Welcome Wagon”

Posted December 8th, 2010 by

plm_ms_comments_diamondlil582

In yesterday’s post, we looked at some of the ways members of the PatientsLikeMe community are connecting with other patients and the value they are getting from it.  Today, we’ll highlight how one person can make an enormous difference and inspire you with her ability to connect with others.

One method of reaching out to another member on PatientsLikeMe is by leaving a comment on their profile page.  Often, you exchange comments to inquire about specific data on someone’s profile or to thank them for sharing.  However, one of the most common uses of the comments functionality is for existing members to welcome new members to the community.  This is has been affectionately coined the “Welcome Wagon,” and it is most prominent in our MS community.  Today, more than 71% of members in that community get a comment within the first 2 days.  Receiving a comment from a veteran PatientsLikeMe member when you first join the site is a great way to “welcome” you aboard and make you feel a part of the community.

A large part of the effectiveness of the MS Welcome Wagon can be attributed to a member named Diamondlil58.  Of the 150,000 comments that have been left on PatientsLikeMe, Diamondlil58 has left a staggering 16,000 of them, addressed to over 15,000 different members.  The graph above shows just how extensively Diamondlil58 has connected with the community through commenting.  In the graph, the dots represents patients in our MS community, and the lines represent a comment between them.  Diamondlil58 is the large green dot near the center.  Notice how she has touched both the inter-connected network of patients (on the right), as well as sent out a huge number of comments to others who aren’t yet as well-connected (the moon-like diagram on the left).  A large portion of these comments were part of the Welcome Wagon.

While the Welcome Wagon was started in the MS community, it has definitely caught on in other communities.  Here is a look at how Babsie, an active member in our Fibromyalgia community, has reached out to welcome new members.  Like Diamondlil38, Babsie has helped create a network of dialogue and connection between patients like you.

plm_fibro_comments_babsie

It’s inspiring to see how one person can touch so many.  Members often tell us how beneficial it is to have a way to find “patients like me.”  (In fact, we cited a few examples yesterday from our research study that shows just how valuable that can be to one’s health).  However, that “find” functionality alone is not what makes this community what it is today.  It’s the people who are using it.  It’s the people who are willing to openly share with one another; the people who reach out to make those connections (sometimes initiated by beacons, like Diamondlil58); it’s people like you who make the most of being a member of PatientsLikeMe.

The next two blogs in this series will include interviews with Diamondlil58 and Babsie.  Stay tuned as we climb aboard the Welcome Wagon and hear what they have to say.

PatientsLikeMe member jcole


One for All: The Connected Community of PatientsLikeMe

Posted December 7th, 2010 by

Comments between Epilepsy patients on PatientsLikeMe

PatientsLikeMe is dedicated to building a platform for the open sharing of personal health data.  So far, our community of patients have shared over 600,000 outcome surveys, 300,000 treatment histories, and 2.3 million symptom reports.   We believe this enormous collection of health data will dramatically improve how patients manage their conditions.

But there are more benefits to joining a community of patients like those on PatientsLikeMe than just sharing data: the social support from interacting with other patients has a real effect on improving patient outcomes.  In a recent study published in the Journal for Medical Internet Research (JMIR), our research team found that nearly half of survey respondents (n = 559, 42%) agreed that the site had helped them find another patient who had helped them understand what it was like to take a specific treatment for their condition.  Furthermore, the survey shows that those patients on PatientsLikeMe who make close relationships with other members receive significantly more benefits from those who do not.

So it is worth taking a moment to look at just how extensive the social connections are on PatientsLikeMe, and how many patients have reached out to other patients and helped improve their lives.

There are many ways to connect with other patients on PatientsLikeMe, ranging from communal conversation in our forums to direct one-on-one personal messages.  While some of this dialogue is centered around sharing of health information and experiences, a part of it is purely meant as conversational discussion about everyday life.  All of these interactions are important, because they help tie a community together.  Here’s a glance at some of the ways you’ve connected:

Forum

  • You’ve created 1.2 million posts composed of 94 million words about 86,048 topics
  • 21,865 of you have created at least one post, and 54,839 of you have viewed at least one post
  • You’ve marked posts as “helpful” 1.2 million times

Personal Messages

  • 25,062 of you have sent a total of 751,668 messages
  • 723 of you have individually sent over 100 messages

Patient Profile Pages

  • You’ve viewed our 80,000 patient profile pages over 15 million times
  • 11,874 of you have left over 156,196 comments on other members’ profile pages

(Note: numbers are across all communities.)

While these numbers show just how much sharing has been going on, the following graph illustrates what the connections are like between our members.  In this graph, the dots represent patients, and the lines between them connect any two patients who have shared at least 5 personal messages together.  Note how many patients are interconnected.   By reaching out to one another for support, conversation, data sharing and more, you’ve created a universe of dialogue that has never existed amongst patients like you.

Personal Messages between Patients on PatientsLikeMe

Click for full-sized version. A graph showing personal messages made between some of the patients on PatientsLikeMe. The dots represent patients, and a line represents at least 5 personal messages between them.

Moreover, what you’re sharing with each other through these various connections represents the largest data set of its kind linking conversations to outcomes and overall health experience. This week on the blog, we’ll delve into some of these connections that have been spurred by some of our members.  However, we also want to recognize that even the silent contributors (those connecting behind the scenes or outside of the forum spotlight) are as much to thank for this open network.  All for one and one for all.

(About the title image. This graph shows all comments made between Epilepsy patients on PatientsLikeMe. The dots represent patients, and the lines between them represent at least one comment made. Note the highly connected network of patients in the center. Click for full-sized image.)

PatientsLikeMe member jcole


PatientsLikeMe and UCB Open Free Online Community for People With Epilepsy in the U.S.

Posted January 26th, 2010 by

Pharmaceutical, Social Media Leaders Examine Real-World Impact of Epilepsy

CAMBRIDGE, MA and ATLANTA, GA — (Marketwire – January 26, 2010) —  Today, PatientsLikeMe, the leading online community for people with life-changing conditions, and biopharmaceutical company UCB open the doors to a free online community for people living with epilepsy in the U.S. Focused on learning from patients’ real-world experiences, the online community allows members to create profiles that record and share their treatments, symptoms, as well as seizure type, frequency and severity.

picture-2“As a patient-centered company, we are constantly seeking innovative ways to enhance and adjust our approaches to meet patient needs,” says Iris Loew-Friedrich, Executive Vice-President, Chief Medical Officer, UCB. “We believe this community will be a source of information that will allow us to better understand people living with epilepsy and may help us design clinical programs that incorporate real-world patient needs and experiences in a measurable way.”

Among the research being conducted, PatientsLikeMe and UCB are analyzing anonymized data shared by participating epilepsy patients, with their consent, via an online clinical survey built into the site to measure patients’ quality of life (including cognitive, social and physical function). Completed by 60 patients testing the site since mid-November, initial survey results show the patients are most concerned with the cognitive impact of living with epilepsy (such as lack of concentration or memory loss).

Adds Ben Heywood, co-founder and president of PatientsLikeMe, “Patients are telling us that, in addition to seizures, there are many more significant aspects to the disease. It’s this type of real-world data and insight about epilepsy that is going to change how this disease is treated.”

To better understand the impact of medications that treat epilepsy in the real world, PatientsLikeMe and UCB are also taking the lead in implementing a drug safety program within this patient community. The program is designed to capture and report adverse events associated with approved UCB epilepsy therapies to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Last June, PatientsLikeMe and UCB announced this strategic partnership to build an online community for people living with epilepsy, which debuts today at www.patientslikeme.com/epilepsy/community.

You can see the full news release from PatientsLikeMe and UCB on Marketwire.

PatientsLikeMe member lscanlon


Harnessing New Media for Patient Advocacy (Part II)

Posted December 9th, 2009 by

A few weeks ago, I was invited to present on behalf of PatientsLikeMe at the Arthritis Foundation workshop held in Newport, RI.  The presentation was on how to “harness new media for patient advocacy” – the same as what I presented at a workshop for non-profits in northern New England in August.  This time the audience included non-profits in the southern half of New England.  Among those in attendance were representatives from organizations that mean a lot to us, and our patient communities, including regional branches of the American Parkinson’s Disease Association, CFIDS & FM Association, and the Epilepsy Foundation.

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One of the highlights for attendees was an impassioned keynote speech by Rep. Patrick Kennedy (pictured above with me and my wife Emma) who advocated the use of the web to support mass organization of patients with serious and chronic illnesses to accelerate research and improve standards of care. We couldn’t agree more.  It’s exciting and validating to know influential decision-makers are recognizing the potential of communities like PatientsLikeMe.

PatientsLikeMe member pwicks