The problem with healthcare is that too often information does not flow easily between those who need it most: doctors and patients. In this week's episode of the New Disruptors, I speak with the CEOs of two startups—Ben Heywood of PatientsLikeMe and Daniel Palestrant of Sermo—trying to change all of that. Both are creating social networks for healthcare. PatientsLikeMe gathers together patients who suffer from the same diseases and compare notes, track their symptoms, and anonymously compare their progress with one another (read our profile here). On the flip side, Sermo is a social network for physicians to communicate directly with one another about the latest treatments and how they are working with actual patients. Watch the video. (Full transcript after the break).
Erick Schonfeld, Editor-at-Large, Business 2.0: Erick Schonfeld with the New Disruptors. I’ve got with me the CEO of Sermo Dr. Daniel Palestrant and the CEO of PatientsLikeMe, Ben Heywood. Both of them are trying to shake up the biggest industry in the United States, healthcare.
Benjamin Heywood, CEO PatientsLikeMe: we create online communities of patients with life changing illnesses and we give them tools to track and share treatment regimens and outcomes over time. And through that they’re able to find out everything every patient is trying in their given disease, every treatment, how they’re managing symptoms and how other patients are coping and managing disease over time.
Daniel Palestrant, CEO Sermo: Sermo is now the largest online physician community with over 15 thousand physicians and what we’re trying to do is tap into a ‘wisdom of the crowds’ effect among physicians where they can share information and do so unencumbered by outside parties.
Erick Schonfeld - And how did you come up with the idea for Sermo?
Daniel Palestrant: I was a surgeon… we were noticing this phenomena where myself and my colleagues would see things happening long before they would appear in the mainstream press. And we realized that if we could find a mechanism to capture that and then be able to vet it quickly and effectively among physicians, you could get good information quicker.
Q – Erick Schonfeld: How did you come up with this idea?
Benjamin Heywood: One of my brothers had Lou Gehrig’s disease and my other brother started a non-profit, biotech doing research into Lou Gehrig’s disease and we decided that the information that we had garnered as a family is something that we could provide by collecting it from other patients in that disease. So we created this platform where patients can share all this information that we had and make it available to every patient with a specific disease.
Benjamin Heywood: Part of what we want to accomplish is to give patients the evidence and data they need, but also help them teach them how to evaluate that evidence. So whether that’s clinical trial data or data on patients like me or stuff they read on the web, how they evaluate that and use that in their decision making.
Q - Erick Schonfeld: And by making this information more readily available to doctors and patients what are you guys disrupting?
Benjamin Heywood: The vast majority of care in this country takes place in very small environments, one or two doctors taking care of small numbers of patients. So you have these constituencies—whether it’s the industry, government, research—who are very well organized and very large. What we’re saying is that there’s now technologies through the Web to allow those constituencies to communicate with one other directly and among themselves, and that’s ultimately what we’re disrupting.