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ALS Symposium 2008: New features for ALS patients

This blog post is the second in a series from our attendance at the 19th International Symposium on ALS/MND in Birmingham UK in November 2008. When PatientsLikeMe attended the previous ALS/MND Symposium in Toronto Canada in December 2007, I was given a platform presentation to show the assembled clinicians, scientists and researchers what we had developed for patients with the condition. This year, as part of a session on the history of ALS/MND patients online, I was given the opportunity to show attendees some of the improvements we had made to the site since that time. * Percentile curves for patients with PLS – When I said that we had more than 100 patients with PLS registered on the site, there was a collective gasp from the audience. Our large sample has allowed us to show PLS patients how they compare with other PLS patients for the first time. (Available to PLS members of the ALS/MND community) * Geomapping – Patients on our system can see a map of the world and see registered users nearby using a Google Maps API developed by our resident geomapping whiz Steve Hammond. This allows patients in isolated areas, or even busy cities, to …

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ALS Symposium 2008: A history of ALS online

Back in November, Jamie Heywood and I attended the 19th International ALS/MND Symposium in Birmingham, UK.  As part of an ongoing series of blog posts reporting from that conference, I have put together a narrated slideshow which is an abridged version of a platform presentation I was asked to give at the conference about the past, present, and future of the internet for patients with ALS/MND. As you will see in the presentation, there has been a strong online presence in the ALS/MND world since the early 1990s. Over time, the proportion and representativeness of the patients participating has increased dramatically, to the point that we now have some 10% of the USA’s ALS/MND population registered on the site. Next up in our series…a blog post looking at some of our recent improvements to PatientsLikeMe for people living with ALS/MND.

10,000 MS Patients and Going Strong…

Today, the PatientsLikeMe Multiple Sclerosis (MS) community welcomed its 10,000th patient member! As we end 2008, more than 10,000 patients in our community are coming together to share their life experiences on PatientsLikeMe. How much experience is that? Try more than 32,000 YEARS of collective experience with MS. More members than ever are sharing in-depth health information with each other, having repeatedly seen the value that this provides to others (and to themselves). Our forum is where members convene to find support and talk about all sorts of health-related topics, including MS-related treatments. Copaxone, Avonex, Tysabri, Baclofen, Rebif, Betaseron, LDN and 4-AP and others top the list of treatments discussed this year. In addition to our dedicated treatment evaluation reports, several members also use the forum to keep journals of their experiences with specific treatments to better help others understand these meds. There is also a good deal of discussion on dealing with other aspects of MS, such as depression, steroids, family and relationships, etc. To date, the forum has more than 17,000 posts. Ready to share your experiences with us in 2009? Check us out to see what patients like you are doing to live their best life with …

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Living Positive with PatientsLikeMe (AIDS Walk Chicago)

You’ve spotted us again!  This weekend, PatientsLikeMe was a proud sponsor of the AIDS Walk/Run at Grant Park in Chicago on September 20, 2008.  The event, benefiting the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and 70 other local organizations, brought together more than 7,000 people on this warm, sunny day to show their support in the fight against HIV/AIDS.  Together, participants raised a projected $400,000 for AIDS-related services. David Williams, Catherine Brownstein and I were at this event, and we were thrilled to meet so many great people, including one of our current members.  As we saw at the AIDS Walk in Boston, there were an overwhelming number of support groups and organizational leaders there dedicated to helping patients. The PatientsLikeMe HIV community, in particular, was met with great enthusiasm.  Our booth visitors loved that we had social networking components on the site, but were more excited about the patient profiles and treatment reports.  We displayed sample profiles to show how members can chart their treatments, symptoms and outcomes (like CD4 counts and viral loads), and use that information to find others exactly like them.  Many people had heard of websites that offer a place to chat with others, but this health …

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PatientsLikeMe at the Young-Onset Parkinson’s Network Conference

PatientsLikeMe was a proud sponsor of the National Parkinson’s Foundation Young-Onset Parkinson’s Network (YOPN) Conference in Atlanta, GA last week. The event, coordinated by and for people living with Young-Onset Parkinson Disease (YOPD), was a huge success. Paul Wicks and I (Maureen Oakes) enjoyed working at the booth, meeting many of our current members and spotting PatientsLikeMe t-shirts in the crowd. Paul was a presenter at the conference, and his session “Taking Control of Your Parkinson’s by Sharing Online” was well attended and received by current and future PatientsLikeMe members. One of the themes that came up repeatedly at the conference is that living with YOPD, like any other life-changing illness, can be a very isolating experience. The YOPN Conference presented its attendees the opportunity to spend the weekend learning more about their condition, expanding their knowledge about the latest treatments and choices, and most importantly, meeting other patients like them. As a community manager at PatientsLikeMe, much of my job is watching. I read the forum to observe what people are discussing, I look for questions and ideas on how we can improve different areas of the site, and watch as members learn and relationships grow. But, one of …

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The growth of social media in health care

According to a December 2007 iCrossing survey cited by Jane Sarasohn-Kahn in her Health Populi blog “34% of Americans turn to social media for health research.” Jane points to PatientsLikeMe and others as “proof of the reality of social media in health is alive and well and healing”, and observes that “increasing numbers of people are reaching out to others for more than the kind of support they might have found in the Compuserve health interest groups in the 1980s; they’re finding practical solutions to chronic health challenges” Interesting reading, especially her response to one commenter that “In the case of info for PatientsLikeMe, the database on drug dosing, quality of life and outcomes throughout the MS cycle is probably richer than any other single source on the globe”.

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