waroncancerNew medicines, immunotherapy, moonshots … there are all kinds of tactics and weapons being used to beat cancer. You may not have thought about numbers as an empowering weapon in the war on cancer, but tomorrow I have the honor of taking the stage at The Economist War on Cancer conference with some amazing people who are doing just that.

That panel, moderated by the head of The Economist Intelligence Unit’s healthcare practice, David Humphreys, will focus on how data, analytics and social media are being leveraged to better treat cancer, and to benefit providers and patients alike. I’ll be joined on the panel by a pair of extremely accomplished gentlemen:

  • Gilles Frydman, the founder of the Association of Cancer Online Resources (ACOR), the largest online social network for cancer patients, composed of nearly 200 support groups for individuals with cancer. More recently, Mr. Frydman co-founded Smart Patients with Roni Zeiger, MD (formerly the head of Google Health).
  • Sanjeev Arora, MD, the Director of Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center (UNMHSC).

In order to better understand the work of my co-panelists, I wanted to understand how their work had was resonating with healthcare stakeholders online. What I found was impressive.

First, Dr. Arora’s Project ECHO dramatically increases access to specialty treatment in rural and underserved areas by providing front-line clinicians with the knowledge and support they need to manage patients with complex conditions such as hepatitis C, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic pain, and behavioral health disorders among many others. It does this by engaging clinicians in a continuous learning system and partnering them with specialist mentors at an academic medical center or hub. projectecho

In order to work well, as you might imagine, there need to be a LOT of hubs and spokes – and there are. It was also great to see many of them maintaining their own twitter presence! It’s also clear that physicians are very aware of Project ECHO and the opportunity it represents to serve underserved communities, and to support beleaguered PCPs who practice in rural areas, often without the resources to effectively treat truly difficult patient cases. When I looked at all of the people and organizations in the MDigitalLife Health Ecosystem database to see who was talking about Project ECHO and how they were connected to one another, the results were pretty amazing – as represented by the network graph below.

NOTE: To get experience the full power of this network, be sure to click the number of nodes (in the upper left corner) to the maximum number (859) – you’ll see what I mean!

[To view the chart above in full-screen mode, use this link: http://bit.ly/2dud7pn]

Mr. Frydman’s Smart Patients network is just as fascinating.

Smart Patients … could actually change the way patients, doctors, and industry interact. Its web site, envisioned as a kind of combination of clinical trials search engine and message board community, might further empower cancer patients whose relationship with their disease has already been changed fundamentally by the Internet.

– Matthew Herper, A Former Google Exec Aims To Power A Patient Revolution, Forbes

When we take a look at Smart Patients’ 1,323 twitter followers through the lens of the MDigitalLife Health Ecosystem Database, we can see that those followers include 68 physicians (Frydman himself is followed by 237 and Zeiger by 640!), 84 known e-patients and over 100 caregivers & other health advocates. It’s intriguing to see the balance of relationships that exist between an organization like Smart Patients and its founders – for example, look at the relationship breakdown, by stakeholder group, of Mr. Frydman’s followers:

Gilles Frydman's twitter followers (@gfry) mapped by stakeholder group

Gilles Frydman’s twitter followers (@gfry) mapped by stakeholder group

Tomorrow’s post will take a deeper look at the content that will be discussed in our panel – which will be live at 2:45 EDT in Boston. If you’re in the neighborhood, I understand that there are a (very) few passes left for the Economist War on Cancer conference left; don’t miss it!

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Follow Greg Matthews on twitter @chimoose; Follow MDigitalLife @MDigitalLife

To learn more about how the MDigitalLife Online Health Ecosystem database can reshape the way you interact with doctors, patients, the media & all the important stakeholders of your healthcare company, learn more about us here.