This morning patient social network MyHealthTeams revealed exclusively to MobiHealthNews that it is teaming up with EMD Serono to launch a new information resource for patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) who are pregnant or potentially becoming pregnant.
The new tool, called Family Planning Resource Center, will be available within MyMS team, which is part of MyHealthTeam’s social network specifically designed to help individuals with MS connect. Patients can tap into the new feature and read about common myths associated with multiple sclerosis and pregnancy and what they can expect during pregnancy.
“Family Planning Resource Center compliments the conversation with trusted information that allows patients to get answers to questions they may have and dispel myths, but also gives them guidance to better talk to those neurologists or [obstetricians],” Mary Ray, cofounder and COO of MyHealthTeams, told MobiHealthNews. “MyHealthTeams helps bridge that gap as well. So, if there are other kinds of questions that maybe aren’t so much related to the clinical medical condition, there are women on the social network who can help them and reassure them and say ‘This is what I went through and this what you can expect as well.'”
One of the major goals of the new tool is to help patients feel more empowered and informed when talking to their doctors. The new service offers readers guidelines for what questions are helpful to ask their care teams.
“Prospective mothers really do need information to better understand when pregnant, especially women with MS, and to be better informed when talking with their doctors,” Ray said. “What we are trying to do with Family Planning Resource Center is help families make the right decisions for themselves when facing pregnancy.”
WHY IT MATTERS
MS is categorized as a rare disease impacting between 300,000 and 500,000 people in the US every year and 2.5 million people worldwide, according to the National Organization for Rare Diseases. The condition is typically diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 50, according to the organization.
Since the condition is rare, individuals may not know someone else in their personal life who has the condition and is planning a pregnancy, Ray said.
“Some of the biggest questions are around how will this impact treatment? How will this impact my current symptoms? Will I have to stop taking treatments, or if I’m on treatments how will that impact my baby?” Ray said.
THE LARGER TREND
MyHealthTeams has been quickly expanding to add more social networks for patients. As of this summer the platform has 33 “teams,” or specific social networks, that users can join, each focused on a different chronic condition. The site covers a range of chronic conditions, including autism, breast cancer, endometriosis and irritable bowel syndrome.
In August the company raised $9.44 million in Series B funding led by Belgian pharma giant UCB bringing the total funding to $26.84 million.
However, MyHealthTeams isn’t the only patient network. PatientsLikeMe is another competitor in the field that was recently acquired by UnitedHealth Group, making it part of the insurer’s research arm. The company said at the time that there would be no changes to the PatientsLikeMe name or membership, but indicated that there will be more connections with UnitedHealth Group.