Openness

CBS Evening News, BusinessWeek, Fibromyalgia: Oh, Just Your Typical Friday

It’s exciting times for PatientsLikeMe! Today, our new community for people with fibromyalgia goes live on our site.  Spread the word!  Let’s bring a new level of understanding to this disease in a way that nobody else can.  Next week: a blog series regarding this new community and the people in it. If you haven’t checked out the most recent issue of BusinessWeek yet, you’re in for a treat. Senior writer Catherine Arnst takes an in-depth look at how PatientsLikeMe is “changing the nature of drug research and the practice of medicine” in her article –  “Health 2.0:  Patients As Partners.” Finally, turn your channel to CBS Evening News with Katie Couric tonight to see PatientsLikeMe featured in a segment with medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.  Part of a week-long series about patients finding medical information online, our piece will include interviews with a patient member, as well as our founders. We have lots happening, and lots more to come!  Stay tuned…literally.

Health 2.0: Where do we go from here?

A few nights ago, I was honored to give a keynote at the second Health 2.0 Northeast conference held right here in our Cambridge, MA backyard.  It’s exciting to see old friends and new emerging start-ups coming together to try and make a dent in the $2 trillion industry that is healthcare in the U.S.  In the world of Health 2.0, we have a lot of great opportunities to impact healthcare in a positive way, including shaking things up and putting patients back at the center.  With so many new and promising companies emerging in the space (many in attendance at the Boston event), we have to start thinking about what happens next.  How can we really make change, and what changes need to be made? I believe we, as the eHealth community, need to focus on two major goals:  1) solve patients’ problems, and 2) create business models that allow us to do #1.  The PatientsLikeMe business model is straightforward.  We build online communities where patients share structured information about their disease to help themselves and others.  In turn, we make money by selling that data.  We are open with our patients about how and why we sell this …

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PatientsLikeMe at the Parkinson’s Unity Walk

PatientsLikeMe was a proud sponsor of the 14th Annual Parkinson’s Unity Walk in New York City this past Saturday (April 26, 2008). Jeff Cole, Kate Brigham, Maureen Oakes and I (Lori Scanlon) were all onsite working at our sponsored booth. The event, which raised more than $1.3 million in donations this year, brought together thousands of people with Parkinson’s, their families and friends, support groups, non-profits and sponsoring organizations — all dedicated to advancing research and helping find a cure. I said this onsite and I’ll say it again: The energy at the event was absolutely intoxicating! In addition to meeting hundreds of people who stopped by our booth to learn more about PatientsLikeMe, we were thrilled to finally meet some of our very own Parkinson’s Community members (and their families) face-to-face for the first time. “Unity” is the perfect word to describe this event. We got to literally see thousands of people in the same place with the same goal, and it was nothing less than inspiring. We got to meet our members, who not only share their health information and experiences so openly on our site, but also opened their arms to welcome us “in”…it touched us all …

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Does It Work? Lithium and ALS

by James Heywood Update (March 7, 2008):  PatientsLikeMe ALS Lithium Research released. Does it work? On February 12th of this year, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (one of the leading science journals) published a paper entitled — Lithium Delays Progression of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. After 10 years researching ALS, I believe it is fair to say this paper includes the most promising suggestive set of data from a clinical trial ever published. I say “suggestive” because there are many flaws with both the information presented and with the publication process itself. These flaws make it so that patients and their doctors are left trying to draw conclusions about the use of Lithium to treat ALS, without actually having any realistic confidence in the data or its meaning. For a patient, there is genuine risk either way. Lithium is not a harmless drug, and, although it is widely used, it can have significant side effects if it is not monitored properly. In addition, the reality is that in several of the last clinical trials in ALS, including minocycline and topiramate, the patients in the treatment group did worse than those in the control group. So, fears about the risk …

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To spit or not to spit (openness gets personal)

Over the past seven months of working at PatientsLikeMe, I’ve come to think that the idea of sharing medical and health information is completely normal. Since giving birth to my nearly 3 year old daughter, I have continued to be eternally grateful to other mothers who have willingly and openly shared their deeply personal experiences and advice so readily. There are some unexpected things you have to deal with, and nothing is so helpful as the wisdom of others who’ve been there. Then this December, I had a moment of pause. All of us at the company received a year-end gift of 23andMe‘s Personal Genome Service. Here was my chance to find out what my genes have in store for me and to find out what I might have passed onto my little girl. But do I really want to know? And once I find out, do I want share that information? Well, it took a while to decide and I hadn’t expected that. I realized that deciding to put very personal details about my health, current or future, out into the world is no small thing. I commend each and every person who has chosen to share their information …

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