Trying to cope with the symptoms of chronic disease can be like sailing uncharted waters. Joey Tuan experienced this firsthand; an active young man just embarking on a promising career as a consultant, Tuan was struck down by a debilitating flu in the midst of a 17 mile hike. To the perplexity of Tuan and his doctors, his pain and fatigue did not subside. Bedridden for months, Tuan struggled to find a diagnosis. Eventually, he found he had ME – a disease so poorly understood that many doctors dismissed Tuan as a hypochondriac. Tuan turned to the web for answers, but navigating websites with contradictory information posed its own challenges. Traditional web forums offered him no way to learn from the experiences of patients most similar to himself. Further, patients were sharing a “goldmine of health data” online, but it was not being used for any systematic research.
That’s what led Tuan and his team to found HealClick.
“The land where broken toys come to find repair”
- HealClick functions as a support system and information-sharing platform for chronic disease patients.
- It is especially useful for…
- patients with comorbidities
- patients whose symptoms are not easily labeled
- patients whose conditions do not have mainstream medical treatments
- The site’s algorithm uses information on conditions, symptoms, and treatments to match each patient with those most similar.
- patients can learn about a new remedy that may have worked well for similar peers, or merely reach out to find connection and support.
- HealClick also offers an interface that allows users to track how their symptoms respond to different therapies or routines.
- Soon, the site will also enable users to integrate information from wearables like FitBit, in order to measure how a new diet impacts their sleep quality, for example.
- The HealClick community has helped bring recognition to previously fringe therapies
- The best example is mold avoidance: this “DIY remedy” is gaining traction after many in the HealClick community have found it helpful for a host of conditions.
HealClick is more than just a way to exchange information; the site makes the prospect of living with chronic disease much less isolating. As the site pursues research partnerships, it also holds the promise of converting its anonymized data into information to spur new remedies and substantiate the efficacy of existing ones.