August 1st, 2010 by Christian Seebode

This post by e-Patient Dave documents some of the aspects of online communities for patient. Having all issues or (only even part of it) at hand still is not enough for mature judgements about the value of online communities. The problem is that a community is diversity. It represents far more diversity than traditional healthcare was able to adress. It is all the patients it represents and not only a part of it. Since it is a technology that is supposed to be applied to wealth of a patients i would place it (experimentally) in the position of a treatment. Why? dreamstime_10198146

Well the core conclusion by Dave is

No smart patient will unthinkingly trust a patient community (nor a physician), online or off. We all need to wise up and be smart consumers. And based on Smith’s writing, I assert that no smart physician or consumer will unthinkingly trust evidence from medical journals.

Exactly. The community itself doesn’t do anything good. It is always the patient. In fact for Patients like e-Patient Dave or Bill Claxton it is information and education they receive by joining a community or the whole processs they perform within the community. Without any scientifically proven evidence i’d say a community supports a learning process by giving opportunities to learn and teach. There is evidence that people confess easier in online self-help contexts. But in general the whole process within communities and its effects needs still to be investigated. I’d say the possibility to learn and teach inside an online community together with lower thresholds for self representation compared to face-to-face situation bear tremendous oportunities for the wealth of a patient. There are risks, of course, but this is nothing special to online communities. This is why the notion of a treatment helps to change the picture of the online communities as well as the way how to approach it scientifically.

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