Patients like me: Good or dangerous advice

unknownKEY TAKEAWAY: Patients like me offers patients a platform to share their experiences around prescription drugs, but they need to understand that the data reported may not be close to accurate and they should not make treatment decisions based on others experiences with prescription drugs.

Walgreens expanded the scope of patient reviews of prescription drugs on its website by providing new information from PatientsLikeMe, a patient community and advocacy organization.  While I understand the “why” I don’t believe this is a good move to ensure that patients are compliant with prescription drugs.

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While information is vetted by the PatientsLikeMe health data integrity team it is also policed by members of its patient communities, to make sure that patients are citing the appropriate dosages for each drug when they review them.  However, where are the controls to ensure that patients are taking the medication as prescribed and ensuring that they don’t have any other drug interactions?

I have reviewed Patients Like Me data for clients and while most felt there was some value the biggest challenge was that sample sizes seemed too small and that data from patients could be skewed by not taking the medication as prescribed.

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Then there is patients POV.  Last Spring when my group was involved in research with online health seekers Patients Like Me was hardly mentioned and several people were “concerned” that they shared data with drug companies.

Patients Like Me can add a piece to the puzzle, but in an environment where patients are left to fend for themselves they should not make healthcare decisions based on what other patients report.

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