Online Medical Advice Goes Social

For the most part, the people contributing to Trusera are ordinary citizens, many of them struggling with chronic disease. For instance, "Pickel," the mother of a developmentally disabled five-year-old, writes candidly on Trusera about a range of issues, from a post about her son's experience on the drug Risperdal to an explanation of tax benefits for parents of special-needs children. It may seem dubious to be getting medical advice from someone you know only as Pickel, but that's where the site's content-ranking system comes in. Trusera is built around the idea that its members earn credibility with one another. Among the new features unrolled with today's official launch are functions that allow members to give "popularity points" to useful posts and trusted fellow members.

"Humans are storytelling machines. It's one thing to ask for charted data and patient health records; it's another to ask for experiences. We're focusing on the latter," says Schorsch. "There's incredible power in analyzing and indexing the unstructured info that people contribute."

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