Iodine might have been the first drug you ever used. When you were little, if you fell and scraped your knee, your mom or dad might have used it as an antiseptic, topped with a colorful band-aid.
I don’t know if Matt Mohebbi, a former Google engineer, and Tom Goetz, an authority in the design and communication of healthcare data and a past editor at Wired, had that in mind when they created Iodine.com last year. But their website is all about what you should know about the drugs you take.
In short, the website is designed to combine information from clinical research and the real life experiences of more than 100,000 people who are taking medications to help us understand the benefits and issues of a wide range of drugs.
The site teaches you how medications may affect you, and what advice others — both researchers and patients — have for you.
You can see how others rate medications, what side effects they experience, how the drug works, all in understandable language. You can find top-rated medications and compare treatment approaches with others.
It’s easy. Enter your health condition into a search box, or just click on a common disease or condition in a list that ranges from anxiety and acne to depression, pain, GERD, type 2 diabetes and many others.
You’ll see basic information about the condition, treatments, tips and stories, side effects, and top-rated medications.
They also offer a medication manager for depression; it allows you to track your progress on the drug to see if its working.
They have a feature listing pregnancy-safe medications, and another that lets you compare medications side by side so you can understand what makes them different.
There’s a medical translator to turn complex terms into something more easily understandable.
Iodine Inc. also offers a free phone app (available at Apple).
The team at Iodine say they hope the new insights that come from pooling people’s real-life experience with drugs can reduce fear and uncertainty about health, improve the discussion between people and their doctors and nurses, and create valuable opportunities for better care.
They’ve surveyed their audience and found that 45% have just started taking a drug and want to know more, and 10% are thinking about starting a new drug. More than half of visitors have tried another drug before the one they’re taking now, and 25% have tried three or more drugs for their particular health problem.
Two thirds come to learn about side effects, and a third want to know how to determine if their medication is working.