By: Michael Slovak
The Greater Boston Area has been known as a center for medical and healthcare innovation for the past half-century, with some of the nation’s best hospital systems, universities and pharmaceutical companies headquartered in Boston and the surrounding suburbs. Hospitals such as Massachusetts General and Beth Israel Deaconess are oft-mentioned for their groundbreaking therapies and treatments, while BU has lead the study of concussions in the brains of deceased professional athletes. While these institutions have been innovating for decades, technology companies that are focused specifically on healthcare are now becoming more prominent in the area as well.
One trend in particular that is being applied in various ways to healthcare is social networking. Patient-to-patient platforms, such as those built by a Cambridge, MA company PatientsLikeMe, allow individuals from across the globe to share their stories and treatments, and also allow people with rare ailments to connect and find support in each other from thousands of miles apart. Patients are now also able to connect with their doctors in radically different ways that in the past with the development of various doctor-to-patient platforms by companies such as ZocDoc or HealthTap. Patients are now able to access and compare massive amounts of data regarding various doctors, or they can get a medical opinion from one of thousands of registered doctors online, as opposed to waiting to get the family doctor on the phone. Doctors are finding new ways to connect with their peers as well with the advent of companies such as Sermo, developing doctor-to-doctor social networks, allowing knowledge gained through the treatment of a rare disease in Europe to be shared with a local doctor in Idaho facing the same threat.
The tech community in Boston has responded to the massive healthcare establishment already in place in Massachusetts by developing some of the world’s most innovative web-based products. With the introduction of Obamacare and the resulting increase in healthcare-related data, the Boston tech scene has been at the forefront of developing new ways for medical professionals to take advantage of all of this new knowledge.