Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Web site delivers medical info with a personal touch

Web site delivers medical info with a personal touch

Connecticut Post (Bridgeport) (KRT) via NewsEdge Corporation :

Mar. 29--Dennis Lynch has always felt that some of the best medical advice comes not from doctors, but from people who have dealt with the same illness or surgery as you. They can tell you first-hand what to expect, what to worry about and what you shouldn't concern yourself with. But when Lynch, an entrepreneur who lives in Long Island, N.Y., had an angiogram about 10 years ago at 26, he had a hard time finding that kind of personal information.

An angiogram is an imaging test that uses X-rays to view the body's blood vessels, and is often used to study narrow, blocked, enlarged or malformed arteries. Lynch's procedure was recommended by his cardiologist, who explained to him the nuts and bolts of the procedure: risk factors, recovery, etc.

But Lynch wanted a more detailed take on what the angiogram would be like. He wanted to know if it would hurt or if he should be scared. He wanted to know what it would feel like. To his dismay, he couldn't find anyone in his age bracket who had undergone an angiogram. "There was really nobody for me to talk to," Lynch said.

Lynch never forgot how that felt. That experience is a big part of why he founded, an Internet TV channel that broadcasts videos of real people who have gone through real health issues, from anorexia to cochlear implants to cancer.

The goal, Lynch said, is to provide a place where people like him can go and find firsthand information on a variety of ailments and procedures. Though he stressed that medical professionals play an essential role in health, and that isn't a substitute for a doctor's care, Lynch said the site provides people with a human perspective they might not get in a doctor's office.

"You're always looking for peer-to-peer information," he said. "You're always looking for someone to add some comfort and understanding to what you're going to go through."

In researching, Lynch said he found that a number of people didn't trust most of the medical information they found online, and what reliable information they did find was fairly impersonal. The stories on, on the other hand, provide personal details on what it's like to find out your child has a hearing impairment or how it feels to be overweight, then lose 50 pounds.

The site, which launched about six months ago, has more than 100 videos posted on it. About half the videos are produced by staff and the other half are sent in from contributors across the country. Lynch said there are strict guidelines for the site's content. The pieces need to be short, well-produced and informative. They also need to have a certain intangible quality -- a human touch.

"You need to share something about yourself," Lynch said.

Those who have contributed to the site include Cori Magnotta, 23, of Middletown, a recovering anorexic. In her video, Magnotta talks about how societal, and family pressure led her to feel self-conscious about her weight, which, in turn, brought on her eating disorder.

Magnotta made the video at the request of the National Eating Disorders Association, a nonprofit organization that works to prevent eating disorders, including anorexia and bulimia. She said she liked the concept of the site, and compared it to the A&E TV show "Intervention," which chronicles real-life stories of people battling addictions.

"It's like a mini version of that," Magnotta said of "It's a glimpse into people's lives, even for a few minutes."

Some of the videos have supplementary testimony from medical professionals. For instance, there's a video of Dr. Debara Tucci, director of the cochlear implant program at the Duke University School of Medicine commenting on a piece about a mother whose young son was hearing impaired and had a cochlear implant.

The doctor's testimony focuses on the medical aspect of the implant, while the mother's story centers on the personal end. About one third of the "real people" videos on the site have accompanying commentary from a physician, and Lynch said that, eventually, all the videos would have corresponding testimony from a doctor.

Locally, representatives at area hospitals weren't familiar with, but think it's an interesting concept. Dr. Jose Missri, chief medical officer at St. Vincent's Medical Center in Bridgeport, just recently viewed a few of the videos on the site, and was impressed. He liked the candor of the patient testimonies, and felt that the physician commentary on some of the pieces added a nice balance.

"Something like this, that relates the experiences others going through the same thing, can be very helpful," Missri said.

Bridgeport Hospital spokesman John Cappiello said the channel seems like a sort of virtual support group. Though it isn't a substitute for consulting a doctor, Cappiello said it might be comforting to some people.

"It's an interesting use of the Internet and electronic media and perhaps it some benefits for patients," he said.

For more information on, visit the site, or e-mail Lynch at

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