Hospital network creates in-house forum for patients

Top-ranked Chicago-area health care system enables patients to crowdsource information and talk about treatment while they’re checking out their medical records.

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When patients want to talk about a disease or a treatment, they often huddle on a message board to swap information on the windy expanses of the Internet.

Last month NorthShore University HealthSystem invited the conversations in from the cold.

The four-hospital network, based in the suburbs of Chicago, is helping its 140,000 patients to create forums and ask one another where to find an ob/gyn, how to sustain a diet or which techniques help in enduring that internal punching-bag condition known as pregnancy.

NorthShore was recently named among Thomson Reuter’s list of the industry’s top 10 hospital groups, and is examining the Internet communications strategies of these institutions.

In Evanston, Ill., where the 2,000-doctor NorthShore is based, the tools for spreading its voice range from the usual array of Web and social media presences to newer platforms like ShareCare, which enables people to pose questions to health care experts.

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