Suffering from a Chronic Disease? Your Health Deserves More Than a Web Forum (Read on for a life-changing tip)

Social media has changed the way we live (and share) our lives. Although traditional social networks often provide a good platform for engaging with like-minded individuals, they should be used with caution when it comes to your health. Acting on incorrect advice - provided by self-proclaimed medical experts, pharma sales reps, or malicious internet trolls - could cause serious damage to your health.

Public groups and forums, where literally anyone can join the conversation, simply do not have the capabilities to provide advice or support that can be trusted. And this is true especially if you suffer from a chronic disease and need long-term medical care.

You deserve more than a web forum. You deserve trustworthy medical advice that is tailored to your very specific needs. 

Playing match-maker: Finding connections based on your specific medical background

The alternative to public social networks is networks generated using cluster analysis. Using information such as patient electronic medical records (EMRs) and demographic data, we can be grouped with others who share more than just our diagnosis. These tailored groups help patients make the type of meaningful, relevant connections that offer exactly the type of care patients with chronic conditions need the most.

The development of these networks represents an important change towards personalized healthcare. The generalized, one-size-fits-all approach to medical care is becoming rapidly outdated, particularly as we learn more about chronic diseases. When two patients with the same condition experience different symptoms, it makes sense that their treatment plans must be unique. For example, consider two patients with Type 2 Diabetes - one is an overweight 60-year-old man, and the other is a 25-year-old woman in a healthy weight range. Their Diabetes management plans would look very different. This is further complicated when either patient has additional conditions or multiple prescriptions.

Therefore, the future of medical care for many chronic conditions must focus on personalized treatment tailored to each patient’s needs. 

When it comes to using a social network to develop meaningful relationships with patients who share your diagnosis, cluster analysis makes sure you are connecting with the right patients. Rather than joining a public online forum for people with arthritis, a network based on cluster analysis can ensure that you connect with others who share more than just another individual with arthritis. 

Becoming part of a specialized network where people are grouped based on age, other medical conditions, medications, and other factors essential to care, allows for sharing more accurate, relevant, and specialized advice. People can compare foods that worsen or improve their arthritis symptoms, exercises that make it easier to get out of bed in the morning, or simply just be there for each other, knowing that their experiences (and more importantly, their care needs) are shared.

Sharing is caring! How Alike connects you to strangers with so much in common

At Alike, we believe in the power of people. When it comes to your own medical care, who better to help than others who have already been there and done that? That’s why we use data from your EMR (de-identified for privacy, of course) to create a SimScore™ between you and every other person in our system. Your SimScore™ tells you how similar you and another individual are, and helps you find your closest matches - your “Alikes”. 

Importantly, your Alikes have much more in common than you may realize at first. You don’t only have a medical profile in common - you may also be taking the same dose of the same medication, undergoing identical procedures, and even share characteristics like age group, gender, or BMI that makes your medical connection even stronger. Your Alikes can tell you how to avoid side effects from new medications, listen to your concerns, and help you gain the confidence and knowledge to ask your healthcare provider more informed questions.

A social network – the right social network - offers the perfect platform for a virtual, dedicated support group, and allows people to connect with whom they can medically identify. Just when you need them the most, your network is there to help you better understand your condition, provide emotional support, assist in deciphering your treatment options, and teach you what to expect in the future.

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