social networking

One for All: The PatientsLikeMe “Welcome Wagon”

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 …

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One for All: The Connected Community of 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 …

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Harnessing “New Media” for Patient Advocacy

The media is abuzz at the moment with stories about social networks like Facebook and Twitter, carrying pieces on the good (Facebook Fan Page raises $10,000 for a Silicon Valley Food Bank), the bad (Facebook users are leaving out of mistrust and boredom), and the controversial (Social networking site for living organ donors). In the health domain, there is a fascinating ongoing debate about the interaction of pharmaceutical companies with the internet (John Mack’s Pharma Marketing Blog is the main hub of discussion), as well as the ways in which non-profits should be using innovative new tools. That was the focus of a workshop recently convened by the New England chapter of the Arthritis Foundation at the Equinox Hotel in Manchester, Vermont. PatientsLikeMe was invited to share our experiences of using the internet to empower patients, change perceptions in the medical field, and effect real change through shared information.  Here are some of the topics discussed: This is not a new way to use old techniques Social media is a two-way street, and you have to engage with your audience with openness and transparency. The vast majority of people support your activities, but there will always be some people with …

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The Patient Voice – Loud and Clear

We are excited to present the first member video for the PatientsLikeMe Mood community and what better way to kick it off than with one that represents the voice of the patient. In June, we launched The Patient Voice with the inaugural report on inpatient therapy, a topic often discussed by our Mood community members.  At the time of the report, 63% of patients on our site reported an efficacy of “moderate” or “major” for inpatient therapy. Many patients have already benefited from the information in the report, so we decided to create a video that highlights our patient members’ tips and experiences. Check it out on our YouTube or Facebook page, but if you visit the latter don’t forget to become our fan! If you want to know more about patients’ experiences with inpatient therapy, you can download the full report here. It includes even more tips and personal stories, interesting facts about the PatientsLikeMe community and a worksheet that will help you make the most out of your hospital stay. Of course, none of this would have been possible if patients like you were not willing to share. We are always eager to hear what you have to …

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It’s National HIV Testing Day

Today – June 27, 2009 – is National HIV Testing Day. AIDS.gov, the one-stop access to U.S. Government HIV/AIDS information and an organization PatientsLikeMe collaborates with to raise awareness of HIV, has been running a campaign all month to promote National HIV Testing Day.  As part of the campaign, AIDS.gov launched the “I Know. I Took the Test” blog series, featuring videos and stories of people talking about what taking an HIV test means to them. The series highlights several HIV testing story campaigns from organizations such as the National Association of People Living with AIDS , POZ , Southern AIDS Living Quilt , The Positive Project , and others. National HIV Testing Day Video Widget. I know. I took the test.Flash Player 9 is required. In support of this campaign, PatientsLikeMe recently invited members of our HIV community to tell us in a few sentences about their experience and/or thoughts about HIV testing.  Here’s what they had to say: “I think it is probably the single most important thing a person can do for him/herself. The test will show if a person is infected, important knowledge no matter how it turns out.” “Getting tested for HIV is so important. …

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PatientsLikeMe Teams Up with 23andMe to Help Parkinson’s Patients

Despite some recent happenings in the news, we’re here to assure you that health 2.0 is still very much alive.  Here’s our recent announcement about our new partnership with 23andMe. ————– PatientsLikeMe, the first community-based personalized medicine platform for people with life-changing conditions, and 23andMe, the world’s leading personal genomics company, announce a partnership today to help people with Parkinson’s disease.  PatientsLikeMe is teaming with 23andMe on its effort to recruit 10,000 people with Parkinson’s for a massive study of the disease, and give patients a way to learn more about their personal genetics. “Today, technology is moving faster than the research establishment,” says James Heywood, co-founder and chairman of PatientsLikeMe.  “We are excited to see what happens when you give patients the ability to see variations of their disease and compare it to their own, while enabling them to easily define their personal genomics.” More…

The Patient Voice: Interview with Mountabora (Mood Conditions Community)

Yesterday, we announced a new report called The Patient Voice for Inpatient Therapy, which highlights patients’ top tips for having a positive inpatient therapy experience.  Maureen Oakes, community manager for PatientsLikeMe Mood Conditions Community (for people with depression and other mood conditions), recently interviewed 3-star member, Mountabora, about her experiences with hospitalization.   Here’s what she had to say: (Maureen) You note in your member profile that you have been hospitalized a few times. What were those experiences like? (Mountabora) Being in a psychiatric hospital is kind of like being at summer camp. You’re away from home, living in close quarters with strange people, and participating in structured group activities which may or may not have a purpose. There are a lot of rules, and you lose privileges if you don’t follow them. You have to get up way too early in the morning and eat three meals a day at the cafeteria. There’s a lot of emphasis on learning coping skills, typically through classes and worksheets. There’s also a lot of emphasis on medication; most patients are on at least two or three psychoactive drugs. You go to therapy and you see a psychiatrist, but much more often than you …

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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.

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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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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