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New e-patient network wants to take the hassle out of finding health info online

Two young entrepreneurs are hoping to improve and socialize the search for health-related information on the Web with a new platform that’s some kind of marriage between a message board, WebMD, Reddit and Match.com. Meddik operates on one of the foundations of the growing e-patient movement: the idea that doctors have clinical knowledge about a […]

Two young entrepreneurs are hoping to improve and socialize the search for health-related information on the Web with a new platform that’s some kind of marriage between a message board, WebMD, Reddit and Match.com.

Meddik operates on one of the foundations of the growing e-patient movement: the idea that doctors have clinical knowledge about a condition, but patients have the practical knowledge.

“Once you go through a procedure, people become these micro-experts,” said co-founder Tim Soo. Meddik is a social platform that enables these micro-experts to create practical, collective knowledge by sharing and recommending information to others with similar health issues or injuries.

A user fills out a profile with general information about himself and his symptoms or conditions, which Meddik uses to calculate a similarity index between that user and every other user in the system in order to build a network of people with similar conditions and symptoms. From there it customizes the user’s page to deliver news, crowdsourced content and discussions that others in his network found helpful.

“Medical advice from the Internet is still not trusted — what’s on the Internet is a different class of information,” Soo said. So, Meddik isn’t meant to replace a doctor’s care, but rather to help people prepare people for medical appointments and learn which treatments have worked best for other people like them.

Meddik graduated from the Blueprint Health accelerator this spring and just closed a $750,000 seed round with investments from Collaborative Fund, Founder Collective, Great Oaks Venture Capital, Silicon Badia and five angel investors.

But it’s not the first to create a social platform to help patients learn about their symptoms and decide the best treatment. Sites like CureTogether, PatientsLikeMe and Audax Health’s Careverge platform, which debuted at CES earlier this year, are all based on that idea, but with varying features. PatientsLikeMe has been open in telling users that it collects data about them from the site and sells it to pharmaceutical companies to use for clinical and market research. But Meddik’s taking a slightly different approach with a business model that’s centered around niche advertising of health products, physicians, services and clinical trials.

In a platform where the users are the product, the key to Meddik’s success is getting users early on to generate content and build an audience for advertisers. That’s challenging since, as Soo pointed out, health is not inherently social. But the startup is launching a private beta trial of its platform this week and Soo said there are already 1,000 people on the waiting list. He hopes it can be open to the public by summer.

Soo is a developer and a medical student at the University of Pennsylvania, and fellow co-founder Ben Shyong is a Web developer and premed student at UPenn.