Last week, PatientsLikeMe presented a keynote address at the inaugural Medicine 2.0 Congress in Toronto, Canada in front of 200 researchers from 20 countries. A new, annual international conference on Web 2.0 (social web) applications in health and medicine, this year’s event was centered around the theme: “Building Virtual Communities and Social Networking Applications for Patients and Consumers.” You can view the entire conference proceedings online. The event is organized by Gunther Eysenbach, MD MPH, who is the editor and publisher of the Journal of Medical Internet Research, where Jeana Frost and I recently published our paper – “Social Uses of Personal Health Information Within PatientsLikeMe.”
This was a great opportunity to update the research community on how our patient members are engaging in data-driven discussions about their health. In my presentation, I gave an overview of the site, summarized some of our published research results, and provided examples of how patients are using our forum and profile comment tools to better understand their own and other’s experience of symptoms and treatments. What really impressed this audience is that PatientsLikeMe is delivering the best of what “medicine 2.0” can potentially deliver to the healthcare consumer, and patients are using it. It’s very powerful for others to see how patients are talking with one another about treatment and symptoms experiences (supported by data in their profiles) to achieve better living. This is exactly what can happen when we put “Patients First,” and give them a community to support the right interaction at the right time. Our patient members today feel empowered to take back their health, and this kind of commitment will lead to better research, better healthcare and better quality of life.