A new social media tool called Wellaho is being evaluated by researchers to treat patients with type I and II diabetes.
The clinical trial by researchers at the UC San Diego School of Medicine will study whether the use of social networking can improve patient-physician interactions and the patient's overall health and wellbeing.
"This trial will study how an online social network may better enable patient care," Jason Bronner said.
"With a controlled group of the patient's clinicians, friends, family and fellow patients, we will measure any changes in knowledge, attitudes and self care towards diabetes," he said.
Wellaho, developed by Sanitas Inc. in La Jolla, is an interactive online system designed to help patients manage their care outside the hospital.
The system is HIPAA compliant, compatible with provider networks, and includes telemedicine capabilities.
"Social networking provides a common way for patients with chronic disease to learn about their condition while interacting with others in similar situations," Bronner said.
"As opposed to open networks, the use of this tool allows us to ensure that the medical information they receive and share is accurate, safe and absent of advertising," he said.
The online site provides self-monitoring tools as well as evidenced-based education customized for the patient's specific condition.
Subjects will be monitored for the number of times they access the site, length of use, and number of invited participants. The site will also track measures of weight, blood pressure, and glycostated hemoglobin.
"Long-term, we hope that patients will learn behaviours that impact blood sugar, control blood pressure, improve satisfaction and potentially decrease cost of care," Bronner added.