How do you make sense of all the information and stories that come with chronic illness? That’s exactly the challenge that the Patient Experience Team has taken on at PatientsLikeMe. Our goal is to create data visualizations that help you gain insight into your health, recognize emerging patterns and learn from one another’s experiences.
Recently, I flew to Seattle to give a talk entitled “Adventures in Data Visualization” as part of the Web App Masters Tour (WAMT). (I’ll also be presenting it again at the final WAMT event in Minneapolis, which takes place June 27-28th.) During my talk, I share our process for translating people’s individual health stories into data – which, unlike text-based stories, are something that can be measured, compared and visualized.
Data visualizations are great at helping people process complicated information quickly and answer questions that can be much harder to answer other ways. For example, is my experience normal? How are my treatments affecting my symptoms? Is my quality of life improving? What happens if I stop taking my medication? With data visualization, you can see patterns that correspond with changes to your medications, lifestyle modifications and more.
Ultimately, PatientsLikeMe is creating a shared visual language that allows your story to be part of a larger story, one that is enriched by data. We are continually working to make it easier for you to learn from the data you share, and that patients like you are sharing as well. Why is this so important? It allows you to put your story in context and find others like you. Ultimately, it allows you to see what you can do to achieve the best health outcome possible.
Have you “seen” something on your profile charts – or that of other patients – that helped you answer your questions? Share your experiences with data visualization in the comments section.