I’ve learned of a pretty cool website called Treato which helps organize and combine different people’s experiences with prescription drug side effects. You can go here to watch a short video that explains how it works. It’s free and I tried it out with one of my prescriptions and was pleased at how organized and limitless the information that came up was. For those of us with a chronic illness, I find that it can be overwhelming to deal with prescription drug side effects because we have to figure out how to separate those symptoms from the symptoms we sometimes get from our illness. For example, I had trouble recently figuring out if high blood sugar was causing dry mouth or if the new prescription I was taking was the culprit and Treato helped clue me in.
I asked Noam Mantel, who works with Treato, a few questions to learn more:
Have you received any feedback from the medical community regarding the safety and efficacy of Treato?
We are pleasantly surprised to receive such positive feedback from the medical community. We genuinely thought the process of having the professionals on board with the idea would take much longer than it has. Today, Social Media plays such a big role in health that people are taking it very seriously, including the pharmaceutical companies. A great example of positive feedback is a blog post written by Andrew Spong which really blew us away (http://bit.ly/stXGx6) .
One of the issues we have come across is info validation. We hope to start integrating medical databases with our personal experiences database so our users can benefit from the best of both worlds at once. We sometimes see raised eyebrows but, especially with professionals, once they see thousands of real patient experiences on one condition or medication, it’s extremely hard to ignore.
What are some practical ways someone might benefit from using Treato?
This is an interesting question because you can take the system to so many places and we hear about new applications all the time. The most obvious way is to get more information on a medication. If you’re already taking a medication and are getting side effects, the site is a great form of assurance that you aren’t the only one getting them. If this is the case, you can compare your medication to similar ones to try and find a medication that less people have said to cause your side effect. Once you’ve found a few potential alternative medications, you can read people’s experiences with switching from your current medication.
Now, this was just an example of people who are already taking medications. People use it to find information about medications they’ve been prescribed, look up medications for recently diagnosed conditions and so on. On a more personal note, I used the site this week for something much less serious. My eyelids were burning when I was exercising so I looked it up on Treato and found out what other people are calling it. This way, I can come up to my physician and say “I think I may have so and so”. This specific application may not have saved my life, but it did make it easier.
Let’s say I look up my medication on Treato and discover that many people have had the same reaction to the medication that I”m having and let’s say I read that several people found relief taking a different but similar medication. How should one go about mentioning this to their doctor for consideration?
We understand how much more difficult it is for doctors today. Patients are coming into their office with printouts of the research they did at home and we’ve heard that some doctors (not all of course) do not care for this. We think the best way to approach a doctor with this is to print out the general statistics you found and then a few specific posts that got your attention. Speaking with doctors, we found that they would respond better to people’s real stories as opposed to medical information from sites. If you show them a few posts of people doing better on a different medication, chances are they will listen.
Of course, if they’re not convinced, you can always show them to the site so they can research the matter further themselves.
Here’s to making sense of our symptoms and prescription drug side effects!