Clinical Curbside

A blog for physicians, by physicians, offering thoughtful and thought-leading commentary on physician collaboration and diagnostic accuracy.

Opinions reflected here are those of the physician authors and are not necessarily endorsed by Best Doctors, Inc.

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   Michael A. Thompson, MD, PhD
Medical Director Early Cancer Research Program,
    Patient-Centered Research


Online Patient Communities (OPCs)

I really haven’t explored online patient communities (OPCs) despite knowing about them and even writing about Participatory Medicine in Oncology, so thought I’d share some information in that realm of the social media space. David Lee Scher, MD in the KevinMD blog “5 benefits of online patient communities" about OPCs with a number of interesting facts and thoughts abbreviated below (see site for limitations and caveats):

There are over 19 million OPC internet sites

  • OPCs provide education 
  • OPCs provide emotional support. 
  • OPCs provide other resources (such as links and more) 
  • OPCs provide information and tools for caregivers 
  • OPCs provide a forum for patients, caregivers, and providers to interact

David Shaywitz at Forbes discussed “Getting Better: Online Communities Elevate Voice of the Patient” which included specific examples of OPC sites such as:

  • Peer-to-Peer: PatientsLikeMe, MDJunction, Inspire, HealingWell
  • Patient submitted reviews: AskaPatient
  • Guidance (“Yelp of chronic diseases”): HealtheTreatment
  • Patient Questions-MD Answers: HealthTap
  • Story collections: ExperienceProject

He also notes that some OPCs are supported by selling patient information to industry and that there is a need for transparency - but that this might not be all bad.

Best Doctors Webinars
While I am interested and support patient forums, I am really not an expert or highly engaged in that area. I may be in the @Doctor_V “Early Adopters and the Hype Cycle” defined space of “The danger with fast talkin’, shiny-object-lovin’ early adoptin’ doctors is that they/we hijack the social conversation and fuel the hype cycle….” However, we are now well beyond the “early adopter” phase of social media. Corporate America and even the pope is on Twitter (@Pontifex). I have explored the use of webinars with Best Doctors (@Best Doctors) with the organization and group moderation of Best Doctors Vice President of Physician Engagement and Social Media Eric Glazer (@Eric Glazer). These webinars were promoted and discussed via social media (mainly Twitter) to explore a variety of topics including:

A summary of available webinars is at: webinars & physician webinars.

Thompson 2013 - Community Oncology- July 2013 (full PDF version)

Dr. Thompson has advised the following entities in the social media space: ASCO (former Integrated Media & Technology Committee member), Best Doctors, CRAB CTC, Doximity, Health Tap, and image32. Check them all out!

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