I found an interesting article on Fast Company talking about the Facebook for Patients. Of course, I’m a sucker for anything that says Facebook and patients, so I had to check it out.
Turns out the article talks about a new Medical Social Network from IBM. Officially it’s being called the IBM Patient Empowerment System. From the description, it’s an interesting mix of PHR functions where you record your health information, patient to patient interaction like PatientsLikeMe, patient to doctor interaction, and even FDA alerts and drug checking.
Of course, I wanted to try this IBM patient empowerment system out myself, but the article didn’t have a link to it. So, I headed to Google and found no website, but the first result was this video about the IBM PHR along with some press releases:
Pretty hard to judge a system if you can’t use it. Plus, it’s hard to interact with other patients if patients can’t find the portal.
I suspect that the reason I can’t find the portal is that it seems like they’re doing a beta test of the website with Gacheon University Gil Hospital in Korea. It doesn’t seem like they’ve opened up the system to everyone yet. It will be interesting to see if they continue to do a partner based approach for rolling out the IBM PHR or if they choose to open it up to anyone and everyone that wants to join.
I’d say the most controversial part of what they’re doing is probably the FDA alerts and drug checking. This tweet by Neil Versel, blogger at Meaningful Health IT news, describes why these types of alerts and information is going to require a change:
Attitude adjustment needed, stat! RT @amednews: Only 8% of doctors say online research done by patients is helpful http://bit.ly/g5Yrzq
— Neil Versel (@nversel) March 12, 2011
The challenge to doctors is whether IBM does it or someone else, the empowered patient is already happening. IBM’s Facebook for Patients is just one piece in the puzzle.