August 3, 2009

Everyone needs an advocate.


Everyone needs an advocate.

Imagine getting a blood test and never hearing from the doctor about the results so you assume everything is OK. Now fast-forward eight months — you’re paler and more bruised than usual so you go get more blood work. Then you wake up on your birthday and get a call from your doctor telling you to get to the emergency room. That’s exactly what happened to Matt Sheehan a month ago. After going to the ER at Hackensack University Medical Center, Sheehan learned he has a rare blood disorder — aplastic anemia. This means that the bone marrow does not make enough blood cells. It also means that Sheehan has to go through countless tests, transfusions, biopsies and other health nightmares.

After his diagnosis, Sheehan decided to share his story with the world. He uses his blog to not only update his progress or setbacks with treatment, but to document his experience with doctors, nurses, insurance, bureaucracy and all the confusion within the healthcare industry. Sheehan’s message: Be your own advocate. Read more at

While Sheehan’s blog isn’t technically a “care page,” it serves a similar purpose: an easy way to update those around you without having to pick up the phone every 10 minutes. Care pages are becoming increasingly popular with patients and their loved ones. As the CarePages website ( says, “Through it, you can receive emotional support with loved ones and friends during a health challenge.”

And, just as individuals need an advocate when dealing with the healthcare system, a healthcare system needs an advocate when dealing with social media and the web.