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Digital Pharma: Virtual diabetes patient community launched on Second Life

Published on 13/01/10 at 10:40am
Dominic Tyer
Virtual 3D community Second Life

Patient group Diabetes UK has, quite literally, set up shop on Second Life, establishing its own office in the online virtual world.

Second Life allows participants to guide a personalised character, or avatar, around its world, combining elements of social networking, chatrooms and a 3D gaming-like experience.

Diabetes UK is using the site to set up a virtual patient community for diabetes sufferers.

There they will have a chance to meet other Second Lifers with the condition, catch up on the latest diabetes news or just relax in a virtual garden.

The patient group hopes establishing an outpost in the virtual work will raise the profile of its cause and offer another channel for providing information about diabetes and supporting people with the condition.

There are also plans to host online events there and develop fund raising opportunities, which start with the Diabetes UK Second Life shop where users can make a donation to the charity.

The Diabetes UK Second Life Headquarters will also allow users to meet the charity’s support team and contact them with questions via email, and there are plans to hold virtual patient support meetings there too.

The patient group has only just started publicising the initiative and it is seeking input from its supporters on what they would like to see in Second Life.

So, how will this work for patients? Diabetes UK has a handy video that explains it all here.

It’s not the first time Second Life has been used in the healthcare arena in the UK.

The virtual world plays host to paramedic training as part of a project involving St George’s Hospital, London, Coventry University and virtual worlds consultancy Daden.

There’s more medical technology training in Imperial College London’s Clinical Scenarios initiative, which aims to improve patient safety and reduce medical errors through specialised simulation tools.

Another Imperial initiative is the college’s Second Life ‘research islands’, which aim to outline a vision for the future of healthcare delivery, that stresses the patient experience and focuses on preventative rather than curative measures.

Dominic Tyer is web editor for Pharmafocus and and the author of the Digital Pharma blog. He can be contacted via email, Twitter or LinkedIn.

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