Health IT

Hashtag your health: Building a health record with likes, shares and check-ins

Set your status. Check in with your symptoms. Share photos. Tag parts of the body. Hashtag to join conversations. Personiform‘s Project Medyear combines Twitter and Google Plus with a political campaign-style health record-sharing patient movement. It aspires to be NoMoreClipboard on a Friday night — less official, more social. And Personiform’s kicked off a campaign […]

Set your status. Check in with your symptoms. Share photos. Tag parts of the body. Hashtag to join conversations. Personiform‘s Project Medyear combines Twitter and Google Plus with a political campaign-style health record-sharing patient movement. It aspires to be NoMoreClipboard on a Friday night — less official, more social. And Personiform’s kicked off a campaign on Indiegogo to raise $80,000  by Sept. 19 to mobilize field operations and volunteers for the movement its website supports.

The site — the “first-ever consumer health information exchange” — would launch Feb. 14, 2014. (The technology itself is already fully funded.)

The idea for the site stemmed from the growing trend of patients taking to social media for healthcare advice, in part due to physicians’ time crunches. But because the social networks don’t really connect physicians and patients, they miss out on the opportunity to learn about and help their patients. (Not to mention the questionable advice they could be getting.) CareRings (a la Google Plus’ Circles) allow users to choose who they share what information with. And that information can be as wide as general statuses to full-fledged clinical records. If your physician joins, you can even share medical history, data and so on with him there. In theory, clinicians, caregivers, patients and physicians could unite using this tool to develop more holistic (if unofficial) records. (According to the company website, the data is secure.)

According to the site, here are Project Medyear’s everyday uses:

  • Compare health records with a stranger that has the same disease
  • Let your doctor know that symptoms have been flaring up a lot recently
  • Remind your brother to take a parent to the doctor today
  • Invite a new doctor into the family health conversation
  • Gain insight about an upcoming procedure from those who’ve had it before
  • Show your support to a good friend going through a hard time
  • Get your latest medical records and test results all in one place
  • Share the kind of images you don’t want all over Facebook

In theory, this would allow patients to connect with other patients, patients to update doctors and doctors to give quick advice and share test results. Unlike NoMoreClipboard, however, this is pretty unofficial. One shortcoming: In the push for sharing and reclaiming data, the convenience of sending that data to your provider or payer — if they aren’t on the social network — seems to have been forgotten. And unlike state health information exchanges, your health info would have a name and a face, if you choose to share it.

But founder and CEO Panha Chheng claims it’s not convenience at the heart of the movement; it’s empathy. When Chheng was in grade school, he came home from school crying to his father (a smoker) about how smoking cigarettes can kill people. His dad quit cold turkey. He claims that sharing health information compassionately leads to change.

Rather than letting states use healthcare information of individuals anonymously, Project Medyear hopes users will add their name, take ownership of their records and propel the empathy movement forward. Though some healthcare providers, like Cleveland Clinic, have made a push for empathy through their marketing, this remains a unique strategy.

According to the website:

Project Medyear is a people’s movement to share health records, however we want. We believe in the power of sharing to uplift lives, and that our collective empathy can become a powerful force for social change.

“We are focused on what it takes to accomplish real progress in healthcare, and it takes more than the best technology can offer,” Chheng said. “It takes people, empathy, and courage.”

Other Personiform leadership includes Dr. Tamer Fakhouri, a physician at OneMedical, and health and social technology strategist Mark Scrimshire, the head of cloud computing at 3M. Chheng has worked at Deloitte, and was a strategist for iSoftStone when it was brought to IPO.

If those connections don’t convince you, maybe the sweet Regina Holliday (patient advocate and artist) jacket will.

Yet, I can’t help but think doctors won’t be too keen on the idea of spending more time on the computer and interacting with potentially hypochondriacal updates. (No more “if it gets worse I’m going to the doctor.”) Or that, if very few doctors join, Project Medyear will dissolve to a realm of everyone crowdsourcing their medical problems, complete with pictures and status updates–a dump of all of those skitterish people looking up what their coughing might mean on WebMD in the wee hours of the morning. (Help me, I’ve been one of them.) No thank you. Sorry if that doesn’t sound empathetic.

Where is the fine line between sharing and oversharing?

Aren’t there better ways to spread empathy in the healthcare community than a social network? What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Medyear from Personiform on Vimeo.