Patients take the lead: the internet - and blogging - are changing the way people learn about health.

Published 06, Oct, 2011
Author // Mark S. King - My Fabulous Disease

Mark S King and the social media revolution where patients seek info, help and support online and we hear from bloggers/advocates at the forefront of this paradigm shift in health care delivery.

Patients take the lead: the internet  - and blogging - are changing the way people learn about health.

You’re part of a healthcare revolution in cyberspace, my friends. It’s changing the way people find treatment information, relate to their doctor, and support one another. And you’re about to meet some of the marvellous people who are leading the charge.

Did you know that 80% of internet users spend time gathering health information  That makes it the third most popular online pursuit, following only e-mail and using a search engine (and yes, that means more than porn. Is your mind officially blown?) The ramifications are enormous for patient empowerment – and for the companies who want to reach us as consumers.

In this new video episode of My Fabulous Disease, I attend e-Patient Connections 2011,  a conference devoted to showing healthcare how to reach patients online. You may remember from my previous video blog “Should AIDS Activists and Pharma Just Get Along?” that my relationship with Big Pharma is a complicated one, so this new episode sidesteps most of the e-Patient Conference program and focuses instead on something truly remarkable.

I participated in a gathering of twenty bloggers the day before the conference, all of us living with chronic disease and writing about our experience (watch the episode, and prepare to be inspired).

The meeting, co-sponsored by HealthCentral and Klick Pharma, was a revelation. Never have I had the privilege of meeting so many online advocates living with other health conditions – cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and more – and hearing about their lives and challenges.

In a day-long session moderated by Digital Health Coalition, the group began drafting a set of values – sort of a digital health consumer Bill of Rights. It’s a work in progress (organizers promise follow up sessions to continue the process) that seeks to define and protect us as “e-patients,” such as transparency when it comes to online messages from pharma, or asking that our physicians get savvy enough to email lab results if we want.


As much as I tend to view HIV/AIDS as “terminally unique,” there’s something comforting about how much I had in common with the other bloggers. Yes, it did occur to me that I was the only person in the room with a condition that could get me arrested for having sex, for instance, but this wasn’t the time or forum to announce our differences. What we shared, and what they taught me about being a more effective advocate, was considerable.

I’ll let my new friends speak for themselves in the video. Meanwhile, check out their sites, especially if you might be living with one of the conditions they are blogging about. My fellow workshop participants were Eileen Bailey (ADHD) Ann Bartlett (Diabetes), Phil Baumann (Men’s Health), Robert Breining (HIV/AIDS), Donna Cryer (Ulcerative Colitis) , Dave deBronkart (Cancer), Bennett Dunlap (Diabetes), Lisa Emrich (MS and Rheumatoid Arthritis), Amy Gurowitz (Multiple Sclerosis) , PJ Hamel (Breast Cancer, Osteoporosis), Tiffany Peterson (Lupus) , Jenny Pettit (Sjogren’s Syndrome, Fibromyalgia), Teri Robert (Migraine), Casey Quinlan (Cancer), Rudy Sims (Disability), Michael Weiss (Chron’s Disease), and Kelly Young (Rheumatoid Arthitis) .

Finally, those who use the internet (and are discerning about what they find) are far more likely to bring ideas to their care provider, or understand side effects or otherwise take an active role in their care. So keep it up, fellow e-patients!

To paraphrase a golden oldie, the healthcare revolution will be televised… on Youtube and Skype and TheBody and Wego Health and HealthCentral and even right here, on My Fabulous Disease.

Please be well, and as always, you’re welcome to use the “share” feature below to enlighten your friends and colleagues. ;]


This an abridged version of a blog entry first appearing in Mark S. King’s fabulous blog, My Fabulous Disease. Read it here.  

About the Author

Mark S. King - My Fabulous Disease

Mark S. King - My Fabulous Disease

Mark S. King and his very funny site "My Fabulous Disease" must share some DNA with Positive Lite, because his light-hearted approach to living with HIV feels just like family. "My Fabulous Disease" has the authority of Mark's lifelong HIV activism mixed with the wit of your favorite gay uncle.

Check out his full blog and more at: My Fabulous Disease