Having lived with type 1 for close to four decades now, Gina Gaudefroy has seen her share of news stories and articles about the latest research and technology relating to diabetes.
She was diagnosed at age 12 when living in Ireland, back in a time that many of us refer to as "the dark ages of diabetes." Her sister also has diabetes, and her 21-year-old son Sean-Michael was diagnosed about four years ago.
So with all that personal and D-Mom experience under her belt, you might see her as a "certified diabetes web surfer" of sorts. Yet someone who still found herself feeling helpless, buried in all kinds of information that was really repetitive and not suited to what she was specifically interested in learning.
That's why Gina, who now lives in Santa Barbara, CA, was so excited to find a personalized web service called Medivizor to help her weed through all the news and articles.
Medivizor launched in late 2012, with creators describing the service as solving the "needle in the haystack" challenge, sifting through loads of info to pick out what you want specifically. That can be anything from info on cutting-edge research, clinical trials, new treatments, medical institutions, experts, or really anything else that someone's preferences may dictate.
Frankly, we're always a little skeptical of new "services" that claim to personalize health information, especially when they're supposed to carry some diabetes management or other health benefit. But hearing how it's helped at least one fellow PWD makes this new one more credible, in our opinion.
Medivizor is the creation of a 2011-founded Israeli startup that has offices in Nevada and now has about 15 employees around the world, mostly doctors and software developers. One of the execs is a name we've mentioned before: Oren Fuerst, co-founder and chairman, who also serves as CEO of the young Delaware-based startup LabStyle Innovations that's created the Dario meter.
Here's how Medivizor works:
Once you set up a free account online, you're prompted to answer 10 to 15 questions about the disease you have in order to isolate information relevant to you. That creates a profile and takes you to a "personal space" page that resembles an Inbox, made up of various filters and views for you to use in sorting through the info that appears. You can open up articles to read, star them, take notes, and easily share your finds through social media.
The information the service provides is gathered from professional scientific journals, among other sources. You can set up your preferences to send email notifications when new articles or information about studies or treatments on your selected illness are published.
Chief Operating Officer Ronen Keinan tells us that Medivizor is different from other "personalized information" sources because it uses patent-pending technology to sort through everything to find the most credible, relevant information and then make it reader-friendly.
Basically, the company's technology uses an algorithm to find very specific information and then the Medivizor medical team, split up by condition, "challenges" that information through their own review and approves the results. Keinan says the process ensures quality and also helps improve the algorithm, and so far they're hearing back from users that 85% of the items are being described as "relevant" to people. Users can also offer written feedback on the items they receive, which Keinan says goes back to the medical team and helps improve the system.
At this early stage, the core service of personalized updates is free. But Medivizor may introduce other services that have a cost, Keinan says. Future possibilities include advertising to help support the free services, and the company may look at third-party partnerships ("bundling" with other subscription services) to collect revenue. No decisions on the business model have been made yet, it appears.
Right now, Medivizor only supports a few medical conditions including diabetes, and breast, prostate, skin, and colorectal cancers. But it plans to expand gradually to include more conditions. While Keinan wouldn't tell us how many total users or how many requesting diabetes info are using Medivizor, he says that PWD users seem to be "rather active" and the most vocal of the patient conditions at this time (!)
As Gina tells it, Medivizor provided her with "some clear refresher information about diabetes that I really needed to be reminded about. I get caught up in the hype for a cure, so I'm always looking at the newest clinical trials and that kind of information."
Some of the best resources Gina's received includes information on the varying genetics of type 1 diabetes, nocturnal hypoglycemia being so common in children, immune therapy, and an article about the major role of glucagon in diabetes.
Gina might seem like a spokesperson for Medivizor, but that's not the case — she's just a PWD consumer like the rest of us, who's also active in advocacy. In her professional life, Gina works as a consultant grant writer for non-profit organizations. She's also involved in the Sanofi-sponsored A1C Champions program as a motivational speaker, and she helped create the "Central Coast Council," a JDRF-affiliated group for PWDs living on the Central Coast of California.
"I've lived with diabetes for so long that I took it for granted that I knew or remembered all this essential information," she tells us. "It's refreshing to receive clear, accurate and easy to read information which pertains to my diabetes."
Really, the service sounds like peer-to-peer recommended information and that's a valuable type of resource to have. Aside from Gina, breast cancer survivor/blogger AnneMarie Ciccarella has also given Medivizor a glowing review, gushing:
"THEY troll through the 220 million hits and THEY find the items that are recent and relevant to MY life. It's a personal relationship. Medivizor and me. An email notification that there are articles that I may find pertinent directs me to my page where I can read the article. No splashy headlines. Just facts. Medical facts. From real medical journals. I can highlight sections that I find to be of particular interest, make notes on what looks like a post-it and let them know if the article was helpful, or not..... and this is just the beginning."
Here's Medivizor's promotional video explaining the value they offer:
Will Medivizor be the next big thing for finding information about medical conditions -- replacing "Dr. Google" that's so often the first place new patients turn to when finding out about a new health issue? Maybe. Maybe not...
But from these early endorsements, especially that of a respected fellow D-peep, we're at least encouraged that this service could be of help.