Why Are Patients & Social Media Especially Important In Healthcare?
(A guest post by Denise Silber & Michael Seres, editing by Komal Garewal & Courtney Berkholtz)
Social Media is contributing to the improvement of care in ways that were previously unexplored, by bringing together the numerous and geographically diverse stakeholders involved in healthcare.
Social Media is bringing patients with similar issues together for mutual support. Social Media is giving patients a voice to help change healthcare policy. Social Media is giving patients new opportunities to communicate with healthcare professionals. Social Media is saving and improving lives, as important information circulates to the right persons.
The 3rd edition of the Doctors 2.0 & You conference (June 6-7, 2013 in Paris) is about the use of new technologies to bring together all of healthcare’s stakeholders. And, Doctors 2.0 & You wants a greater number of patients from around the globe to be able to attend than ever before.
Therefore, the conference founders have launched a MedStartr project to crowdfund travel for patient scholars. No one knows better than patients what is needed, and they are not asked often enough what is needed. Doctors 2.0 & You wants to change that by inviting patients to have a seat, front row center.
Meet Michael Seres, chief patient advisor for the 2013 edition. Michael Seres has been a patient for 30 years, having been diagnosed with the incurable bowel condition, Crohn’s Disease at age 12.
After many surgeries, followed by intestinal failure, he became the eleventh person in the UK to undergo a bowel transplant. In fact, Michael was able to contact the surgical team and get into the transplant program, thanks to information provided to him by a physician in the US, via social media.
As he approached the transplant, Michael started writing a blog in order to keep family and friends abreast of his news.
Amazingly, the blog began to serve broader purposes. The transplant team in Oxford used it as a resource to check on how Michael was doing when not in the hospital. They recommended it to med students and bowel patients from around the world, who then began to engage with him. In just a year, over 55,000 people have read Michael’s blog.
To quote Michael, “I have been humbled and privileged to build a social media patient-based interactivity with several thousands of people! I had the honor of being an e-patient scholar at Stanford’s Medicine X, and that is where I first met the irrepressible Denise (founder of the Doctors 2.0 & You conference). Her passion about Doctors 2.0 & You came across the first time we spoke and immediately made me want to be part of such a unique event.”
"As patient advisor, I work with the organizing team to develop the strategy for attracting patients to the event. I guess I am one of the flagbearers for patients at this conference, ensuring that we really do deliver the best possible platform for patients to actively participate in. After all I am a patient."
Patients have become one of the drivers in care disruption, utilizing Social Media to help change the face of healthcare. Rare disease patients have been able to drive change in research, clinical trials, and communication across their disease community through Social Media. Breast cancer patients have initiated support and information networks utilizing Social Media. Patients have the most influence of medical professionals, and patients can lead to the change that needs to take place in healthcare.