Social Networking for Patients

Whenever I talk about social networking with physicians, my ideas are met with massive scepticism. “Why would we encourage students to participate in such an antisocial medium?” is the most common response. But when I open the topic of people who are isolated in their homes because of personal or family illness, the lights go on in people’s eyes. The following are examples of some of these networks:
Interactive Autism
IAN, the Interactive Autism Network, is an innovative online project designed to accelerate the pace of autism research by linking researchers and families. Anyone impacted by an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can become part of IAN’s online community to stay informed about autism research, provide feedback, and make their voices heard.
Although primarily about research, it provides links to articles, upcoming events, news and discussion opportunities.
My Care Community
My Care Community is for the live-in caregivers of chronically ill people. CareCommunity gives you the following.
* Expert information.
* Access to a community of caregivers.
* A “Personal Community” page to help you share caregiving with friends and family members.
Patients Like Me
Communities for ALS, Hiv, MS, Parkinson’s and mood disorders. Founded in 2004 by three MIT engineers whose collective experience spans from running the world’s only non-profit biotechnology laboratory to large-scale online commerce applications, PatientsLikeMe is a privately funded company dedicated to making a difference in the lives of patients diagnosed with life-changing diseases. Our personal experiences with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) inspired us to create a community of patients, doctors, and organizations that inspires, informs, and empowers individuals. We’re committed to providing patients with access to the tools, information, and experiences that they need to take control of their disease.
Webtribes
Webtribe is a network of communities that include addictions, anxiety, depression, hiv/aids and ocd.
The Wellness Community
Cancer support, education and hope for patients and families.
Group Loop
This is a safe place for teens with cancer that is a subgroup of the wellness community.
Starbright World
A site for chronically ill, hospitalized teens setup by the Starlight Foundation. The Toronto Hospital for Sick Children is a participant.
The network offers videoconferencing, private and secure access to almost 600 web sites, 150 games and activities, chat rooms, bulletin boards, e-mail and instant messaging.
The “Find A Friend” program lets children search for other kids with similar interests, hobbies and illnesses. They can even search specifically for a certain age range. The feature encourages kids to communicate and socialize with each other.
A study conducted at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York found that children experienced less pain and anxiety while engaged in Starbright World than when engaged in other recreational activities.

Social Networking for Physicians

I recently returned from the Medicine 2.0 Congress in Toronto where I had the privilege of meeting Dr. John Sharp from the Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Peter Murray from the UK, and two exciting young innovators Bertalan Mesko from Hungary and Jennifer McGabe Gorman from the US. What was particularly interesting about all of these meetings was I knew these people from their online presence long before I saw them at the conference. Personally I make more interesting connections to people through my online world than I ever make at solely F2F medical conferences.
Physicians join online communities for many reasons including:
* professional connections
* international connections
* personal connections
* professional development
* unanswered questions.
Here are some of the latest social networking sites.
Asklepios.ca
Created by the Canadian Medical Association, it’s exclusively for Canadian physicians, residents and medical students, so you’ll know exactly who you’re connecting with here. With Asklepios, you can:
* Create and join groups where you can talk about topics of interest, whether professional or social
* Send secure messages to your colleagues or chat in real-time
* Create and invite people to events and track your R.S.V.P.s
And don’t forget, you can connect with confidence, knowing this is a secure service from the Canadian Medical Association provided exclusively for Canadian physicians.
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Within3
Within3 is the private professional networking site exclusively for health and life science practitioners to find, connect and collaborate with the right colleague, right now. Membership is free and by invitation only.
* Save time finding a reputable specialist or resource worldwide
* Connect to new colleagues through those you know and trust
* Control who you interact with and how
* Share information in a safe, easy-to-use environment
New Media Medicine
New Media Medicine is a UK site with 45,813 members that is so exclusive I couldn’t even get information from the website!
Medical Education Evolution
This one is my personal favourite because it’s small, very international and about my favourite topic – medical education.

Dr. Rajput hosts leading Parkinson’s Researchers

Some of the world’s leading researchers into Parkinson’s disease were in Saskatoon over the weekend to share information on the search for a cure for the deadly condition.
Dr. Ali Rajput of the University of Saskatchewan convened the gathering of scientists from as far away Vienna.
Rajput is one of Canada’s top neurologists and has been treating Parkinson’s patients for more than 40 years.
He says medical science is much closer to a firmer understanding of Parkinson’s, thanks to the presence of so many top experts sharing information in Saskatoon.
To continue reading, see the CBC article