By Elizabeth Willoughby on
Last year, actor Hugh Grant gave his support to healthtalkonline.org, a website that offers health advice and videos of real patients telling about their experiences with particular diseases.
“The principle idea,” says Dr Anne McPherson, one of the developers of the website, “is to get the widest possible range of experiences that people have for each disease or health issue, rather than just one or two, and to analyze that and have it available in a format which patients can access – to learn from, to get support from – their carers can also get that – and to help them make choices about treatments.”
Last summer McPherson turned to Grant, whose mother had died of pancreatic cancer, to help with the new part of the website dealing with that disease.
“One of the big differences between this website and other health websites that you might find on google,” Grant said in a BBC interview, "is that this one is run by top Oxford doctors and researchers. That’s why it wins all these awards. Whereas the vast majority of these health websites you end up on when you google with hypochondria in the middle of the night, and no one knows that better than me, is they tend to be sponsored by pharmaceutical companies. They’re just not in the same league when it comes to reliability.
“I don’t think there’s any substitute for hearing first hand other patients’, or people who’ve been close to patients, experiences of these things. Especially on a website that is so carefully balanced and researched.”
Now, McPherson is approaching Equilibrium to develop the bipolar disorder branch of healthtalkonline.org.
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