Oversharing health woes on social media may finally do us some good.
A new show, “Chasing the Cure,” features patients broadcasting their medical mysteries and unsolvable ailments, then “crowdsourcing” medical expertise to find answers — all on live TV. It’s as though the popular aughts TV drama “House” was happening in real life.
The Ann Curry-helmed program, which premieres Thursday at 9 p.m. on TBS and TNT, introduces patients to a panel of physicians to investigate their health issues and potentially find diagnoses.
“The medical issues are complex and challenging, but the show [gives] patients who have lost hope a voice again,” says Dr. Sheila Sahni, a New Jersey-based interventional cardiologist. Sahni will appear weekly on the show with at least two other physicians, including an ER doctor from Philly and a Dallas-based family medicine specialist.
Other doctors from around the world will also be weighing in via social media, giving patients their very own medical dream team.
“It’s a way to get eyes on these cases that wouldn’t get this kind of attention,” Sahni tells The Post.
In the lead-up to the show’s premiere, countless patients have submitted their “case file” — using only their first name and a photo — to the show’s Web site, ChasingTheCureLive.com, detailing an assortment of unexplained symptoms.
One patient on the site complains of “sharp-knife chest pains since 2007, still no answer. When I take a deeper breath, the pain worsens! I need answers ASAP.” Another writes that he’s experiencing “severe painful abdominal bloating after most every meal — so big looks like I’m pregnant.”
On the site, viewers can follow case studies they’re interested in, and contribute their own comments, suggestions or messages of support.
Each 90-minute episode will highlight a few of those case files, which will be vetted by the show’s experts in advance. The doctors will work together like medical detectives to try and provide the patient with some new information and, hopefully, a potential diagnosis.
“Doctors struggle to keep current and we need to help them keep current and help the general public be current by broadcasting some of that data,” Curry, who serves as a “patient advocate” on the show, recently told Parade.
To avoid potential medical-ethics violations, the network has hired an “ethics team” comprised of lawyers, social workers and a chief medical consultant to prevent patient privacy violations. The show will also provide “after care” for any patient who was selected for the program whether their segment makes it on the air or not.
Sahni says the show underscores a shift in health care in which both patients and doctors can use social media and online networks to their advantage. For instance, she notes that doctors can follow hashtags from major conferences to stay informed of research breakthroughs. Patients, too, can use social media to connect with others experiencing similar medical problems.
“Social media can be a slippery slope, but I think it’s a positive thing,” Sahni says. “It’s about getting on a path to wellness.”
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