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Five Health Communities Every Patient Should Use

Posted on August 22, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Here are Smart Phone Health Care, I’ve focused a lot on mobile health apps. However, there are also a lot of great websites out there that have been designed to help the average person take control of their health. Some of these websites have mobile apps that accompany the sites, but even those that don’t can be accessed from a mobile browser. Here are some of the best patient information/health communities out there, at least in my opinion:

1. WebMD: I think this is quite possibly the most well-known health website out there, but it definitely should be included in this list. I recently reviewed their smart phone app, but I absolutely love their website. It’s the one I turn to most with my medical questions. Sometimes, they might provide too much information (only because it’s fuel for my hypochondriac-ism). This is definitely a one-stop medical website, as it has everything from search tools for symptoms and doctors, to medical news, to different categories with plenty of information, including healthy living, drugs and supplements, and parenting and pregnancy. I like that registered users are able to store and access health records on the site, and that, if a user allows it, healthcare providers can access the information. It’s also an interactive community, with blogs and forums, as well as the “ask the experts” feature. The site is available free of charge.

2. Vitals: When I was looking for an OB/GYN, I frequented this website. It’s a database of just about every physician around the country, and even has many international doctors listed. You can search by the doctor’s name, location, specialty, or medical need, so even if you don’t have a specific doctor in mind, you can find one that fits your needs. Users are encouraged to rate doctors on several different categories, specifically on ease of appointment, promptness, courteous staff, accurate diagnosis, beside manner, amount of time spent with patient, and follow up. It also shows which hospitals a doctor is associated with, their location, education, and other languages spoken. There’s also a cool feature where you tell the website what symptoms you have, and based on that information, a doctor is recommended for you. You can even add in an insurance filter, so you don’t waste time calling someone who doesn’t take your insurance (believe me, I know how frustrating that can be!)

3. Livestrong: This website always is among the first two or three search results whenever I have been Googling anything health related. I’ve come to really like this site, and the detailed information it provides. It was founded by Lance Armstrong and Richard Rosenblatt since March of 2008, and has been going strong ever since. The site was created to help people make good and health decisions, give inspiration, and a provide an outlet of reliable information. From the moment you enter the website, it is a customized experience — you select your gender, and then you are brought to a page with gender-specific information. Livestrong has SO much information that is pertinent to just about anyone and any topic. I’ve found ideas for substitutes for different ingredients, calorie information, and general health news. Livestrong.com also has a great mobile app where you can track your calories and exercise.

4. Healthline: I’ve never actually used this website, but from what I have read, it is highly recommended. It is supposed to be an alternate option for going to the doctor. You can type in your symptoms and suggested diagnoses appear, and you can search for medical advice. There is a lot of information on this page about different conditions, so if you have been diagnosed with something, this would be a good place to go to find out more information. Like all the other websites I have mentioned, advice is free of charge. There is an option to sign up for alerts when information on specific topics are added, and even when something by a specific doctor or writer is updated. It is similar to WebMD in its function, but definitely has a different feel to it in my opinion.

5. iMedix: This is a social media, health community where there are support group for different conditions, where people can ask questions of other users, as well as search the large database of information that is available. Users can create profiles and message other users, and there is a great list of question and answers. I am a member of a “birth club” for the month my son was born on BabyCenter.com, and it’s just kind of nice to have a support group of people going through similar situations. I could see similar comfort coming from the support groups available on this site, which range from fitness, to depression, to the swine flu. There are some great search features, and I think it seems like a very well-managed health community. I love how it incorporates social media, and allows users to really customize their experience.

Health Social Network iMedix

Posted on June 15, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Has anyone participated in the health social network iMedix? I first read about this idea a few years ago on TechCrunch and it looks like they’re still around and kicking. I really like the idea of an empowered patient. I like the idea of having good information. I’m just not sure that iMedix or many other websites are the places for patients to get that information.

I wonder if iMedix could possibly start partnering with EHR companies to provide their platform of information integrated with a doctor’s portal. I’m not sure the doctor would ever go for it or if they would want to take on that liability. However, iMedix is interesting as kind of a Yahoo Answers for medical questions.

I’ve certainly seen this a few other places on the web and whenever I see it, I think about my experience at the doctor. Usually they don’t have time to answer all of my questions or it feels rushed or other questions just come up after the fact. Plus, I kind of like to know all the nuances of what’s happening. Since I work daily with a number of doctors, I’ve often found myself going and visiting with those doctors to become more educated about the treatment suggested by mine or my children’s doctors. One time my son was prescribed some interesting drugs for Mastocytosis and so I went and talked with the pharmacist I support and learned about the drugs as well. I just wanted to learn everything I could about the treatment and disease.

At the end of the day, how different is it for someone to go on a health website and ask the questions that I asked the doctors and pharmacist I work with? I guess the main difference is the trust factor between information on a website and my colleagues at work. However, the motivation to get more information is the same.

What can’t be discounted is the power of these health social networks to help patients with similar chronic conditions to interact with each other. I find this type of interaction really interesting to follow.