Health IT

PatientsLikeMe wants to convince patients to share health data through social media campaign

If consumers knew the impact their health data could have on advancing scientific research, would they be willing to donate it? That’s the goal of a healthcare marketing campaign by PatientsLikeMe. It’s launched a series of public service announcements through social media channels such as YouTube and Facebook to remind people the value of sharing health information, according to a company statement.

The “Data for Good” advertising campaign speaks directly to people with a disease or medical condition. Its goal is to counter the distrust that colors attitudes towards the pharmaceutical industry by drawing attention to the motivation behind the company’s start. The campaign underscores the power of donating health data to improve one’s own condition, help others and change medicine.

A critical part of its campaign rests on the findings of a PatientsLikeMe survey — that 94 percent of patients on social media are willing to share their healthcare data. That willingness comes with a proviso, their privacy has to be protected. Considering Facebook’s reputation for giving advertisers access to its members’ data it’s a bit ironic that such a double standard has developed. It’s not that people shouldn’t be concerned about how their data is used. But it’s interesting how they tend to be so blasé about Facebook’s use of their data compared with, say, the healthcare industry, where there’s theoretically a greater benefit.


PatientsLikeMe has about 250,000 members who represent 2,000 conditions, according to its website. It has cultivated communities of patients that exchange information and support about their conditions. It recently set up an open-source platform to measure health outcomes for medical conditions that reflect patients’ experiences with a disease that’s available to researchers.

[Photo credit:  Big Stock Photo Healthcare Network]

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