What Happened: The American College of Cardiology and PatientsLikeMe have joined forces in an effort to bring real-world patient feedback and experience to the center of diabetes research and care. Poised at the intersection of social platforms and clinical research, PatientsLikeMe is an online patient network with over 350,000 members with a wide range of health concerns – 20,000 of which have self-reported as diabetics. It allows people to connect with others with similar diagnoses around the world, track and share their own experiences, and generate real-world data about their disease that can be used to improve healthcare knowledge and delivery.
What This Means for Brands: Healthcare is increasingly driven by the desire for personalization. At the same time, patients and families are turning to health-focused social platforms and digital resources outside of their clinical experience for guidance and support. While it is ill-advised to turn to Dr. Google as a substitute for a primary care provider, a 2014 survey found that 7 in 10 adult internet users search for health information online, and 16% actively seek out others who share similar health concerns. Facebook houses dozens of disease-specific groups, and social media can serve as a lifeline for patients and families battling rare diseases. The opportunity for healthcare providers, research institutions and non-profit organizations to partner with these patient-centered social platforms instead of operating parallel to them holds immense potential for innovations in healthcare and research, as well as branding and marketing opportunities. This type of partnership can allow providers to connect with patients where they already are, assist patients in taking ownership of their health, and bring to fruition the personalized and person-centered healthcare for which many providers are striving.