Patient blogs are changing healthcare

It's not everyday that a patient's blog makes the front page - check out this great write-up of a teen cancer patient's blog. His blog, along with many other patients blogs, are at CarePages - a free, easy-to-use website that helps family/friends communicate when a loved one is receiving care. It's sponsored by RevolutionHealth andEdward Hospital.

Read this story about 5-year-old Matthew Langshur - CarePages was really started by his parents when they had to go through a difficult period right after Matthew's birth.

CarePages has been used by over 1 million families worldwide (~45k patient sites). It definitely stresses emotional support and seems to be more geared towards traumatic difficult events (their resource center is focused around 4 diseases: breast cancer, lung cancer, premature birth, and congenital heart defects). These are diseases that we really can't fathom unless we are living it - no wonder some have said thatCarePages is the most meaningful use of the internet.

PatientsLikeMe, a similar site (and one of the healthcare 2.0 sites I've highlighted previously) seems to be more focused on longer-term diseases where you can track clinical progress with patients like you (current focus is on Lou Gehrig's, MS, and Parkinson's). As such, the focus is more on education and support for newly diagnosed.

CarePages seems to be the one getting all the attention, though older sites also exist: CaringBridge (1.8MM people use visit per month, viewing ~60k patient sites) andtheStatus.

Regardless of which one is utilized, patients blogs are changing the way patients educate themselves. I heard a physician say the other day that most of the formal diabetes and congestive heart failure websites out there are terrible and that you can get much more useful information about those diseases on blogs (for example, go to our frienddiabetesmine!)

I applaud forward-thinking hospitals like Edward Hospital,High Point Regional Health SystemVia ChristiUPENN, andmany others that are joining with this to support their patients. I convinced that this level of emotional support invariably improves outcomes & patient loyalty.

For patients, they can connect in a meaningful way to the people they need most - family/friends & the select others who know what they're going through.

UPDATE: also check out DailyStrength