The Medical Value of Online Chat Rooms

Could we cure diseases faster, or at least better control them, through crowd-sourcing?

Benefits for patients and doctors:

PatientsLikeMe provides forums where more than 65,000 members with epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and more than a dozen other disorders are encouraged to share details about their conditions and the success or pitfalls of specific drug treatments.

Benefits for industry:

Among the services the site provides to its corporate clients is analysis of members’ conversations, broken down by age, sex, disease progression and treatments, to “learn not only what’s being said about your brand, but by whom.” Another service allows drug makers to conduct market research on 25 to 50 of the most active users on the site — typically those who post messages often and have emerged as opinion leaders — who consent to participate.

Full article on social networking sites that collect and sell members’ health data for research purposes.

Comments (4)

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  1. Stephen C. says:

    I think medical chat rooms are a greatly underutilized resource.

  2. Devon Herrick says:

    Medical chat rooms allow patients to glean information from fellow patients. The consensus that emerges may not even be known to a patient’s doctor. Researchers reviewing and following up with participants can discover side effects and information on a drug’s effectiveness that might otherwise require hundreds of physicians across the country, and years of time to discover through traditional methods.

  3. Larry C. says:

    There is an opportunity for entrepreneurship here.

    People who want total separation from the commercial interests should be able to find sites that provide that service — but may charge a fee to the users.

    People who are willing to allow the commercial interests to use their data would have free access and maybe even get paid for contributing.

    No reason why one size has to fit all.

  4. Ben says:

    I think medical chat rooms would help a lot. I constantly have questions to ask about my health, but I have no one to ask other than going to a doctor.