Healthcare Listens To Social Media - InformationWeek
Healthcare // Patient Tools
04:55 PM

Healthcare Listens To Social Media

Online chatter is a valuable source of information about patients' symptoms and the effectiveness of drugs and other treatments.

InformationWeek Healthcare - November 2010 InformationWeek Healthcare Logo
Download the entire November 2010 issue of InformationWeek Healthcare, distributed in an all-digital format (registration required).

Healthcare Listens To Social Media Patients often reveal more details about their medical conditions in discussions on social networks, blogs, and other online forums than they share with their doctors. They talk about their experience with illness and the medications they're taking in more detail. They bring up issues they don't realize are relevant to their treatment or that they're too embarrassed to share face to face.

And now companies are starting to mine online chatter for valuable information that can identify trends in patient symptoms and outcomes, track the effectiveness of treatments, spot complications with drugs and drug interactions, identify patients for clinical trials, and identify market opportunities.

One of the early market leaders is PatientsLikeMe, which offers an online data-sharing platform for patients with "life-changing" illnesses. About 80,000 people participate in 11 disease communities, including ALS, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression and other mood disorders, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, organ transplants, and Parkinson's.

PatientsLikeMe works with pharmaceutical makers UCB and Novartis; various research centers, including Johns Hopkins, University of Wisconsin, Penn State, and the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center; and several non-profit organizations. It provides them with aggregated and anonymized data from its patient profiles and discussion forums that they can analyze themselves. PatientsLikeMe also offers its own analytics services.

Novartis has used information gathered from PatientsLikeMe discussion forums and patient profiles to determine that multiple sclerosis patients have difficulty managing the injectable drugs that are a standard part of their treatment. It has also used PatientsLikeMe services to recruit patients for clinical trials of a pill alternative, called Gilenya. Novartis has since gotten Food and Drug Administration approval for Gilenya.

PatientsLikeMe is among a small number of companies starting to track and analyze patient-generated online data. Another is NielsenHealth, which provides BuzzMetrics services that include data collection and analysis, focusing on what people are saying about healthcare and pharmaceutical companies' products. Some pharmaceutical companies are doing this sort of research and analysis on their own, as well.

To read the rest of the article,
Download the November 2010 issue of InformationWeek Healthcare

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Digital Transformation Myths & Truths
Transformation is on every IT organization's to-do list, but effectively transforming IT means a major shift in technology as well as business models and culture. In this IT Trend Report, we examine some of the misconceptions of digital transformation and look at steps you can take to succeed technically and culturally.
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll