Industry specific social media sites are popping up all over to help professionals in many spheres share data and collaborate on topics important to their trade. Socialmediatoday.com describes, “Industry-specific social networking sites allow you to interact with professionals from your industry exclusively and are focused on news and events that affect your business directly.” These sites are often less distracting than attempting to find the information you’re looking for on a mainstream site like Facebook or Twitter, even LinkedIn.
PatientsLikeMe is technically an industry specific social site dedicated to healthcare but it goes much deeper. PatientsLikeMe is a gathering of actual patients suffering from and living with disease. What began as a sharing site for ALS patients, has grown. Since 2011, PatientsLikeMe has been open to any patient with any condition. These patients are openly sharing valuable information about their disease, their treatment, their symptoms and their experiences with other patients who also have their disease. This sharing of data helps patients know what to expect, gauge how they are doing, find new ways to treat their symptoms, and receive support from patients just like themselves. “In the process, they generate data about the real-world nature of disease that help researchers, pharmaceutical companies, regulators, providers and nonprofits develop more effective products, services and care,” as stated on the Patientslikeme Wiki page.
Before writing this post, I had no idea that a site like this was available, not having any close friends or family suffering from disease or using the site. But it doesn’t take hours of research to grasp the impact that this site is having on the quality of life of its patient members. It is an open and honest look at illness and it is providing real world data to researchers who are studying cures and treatments. This site can change the world. As a matter of fact, Wikipedia noted that “the company was named as one of the “15 Companies that Will Change the World” by Business 2.0 and CNN Money as well as #23 on Fast Company (magazine)’s 2010 list of Most Innovative Companies.” This site certainly stands out from mainstream social sites, although they do have pages on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest as well as a podcast and a blog. It doesn’t just connect people and allow them to engage and share information. What PatientsLikeMe provides is research network that could advance medicine. It’s a true vision. Forbes.com called PatientsLikeMe, “a social network that is producing some of the most compelling clinical data the health care industry has ever seen.”
This week in class we examined proximity marketing. Wondering if a site such as PatientsLikeMe could incorporate this kind of marketing into their IMC mix, I posed a question to myself. “Would it diminish their mission in any way to add this type of promotional marketing to their honorable operation?” Of course you could add proximity marketing to anything…but would it be relevant to their users? They could incorporate the ability to check in at hospitals and medical centers when receiving treatment or doing doctors’ visits. They could receive discounts at certain pharmacies or medical supply stores. My first instinct was that this is something that shouldn’t be marginalized with marketing campaigns. However, on second thought, these patients are willingly sharing the most private details of their lives to help others and why shouldn’t they receive offers that will benefit them. Patients like me already has a partnership with Walgreen’s where patients share how a prescribed medicine affected them as described in this blog post. Other patients can view these snapshots to see the side effects before they start their regiment. Perhaps they can build upon this partnership and add proximity marketing to their already profound network.
One of the channels I think works best with patientslikeme.com, in addition to their blog that I just mentioned, is their Pinterest page. A visit to this page will yield important information about nutrition and sleep, easy recipes for those with Diabetes as well as DIY home remedies to alleviate pain and nausea. It would prove to be a much appreciated tool to their more than 200,000 patients tracking over 1800 diseases. Plus the engagement adds a bit of normalcy to patients’ already hectic program of surviving a life-altering illness.