Crowdfunding For Future Health-Would You Join In?

By Maria Gjerpe MD, Founder of MEandYou, Speaker at Health 2.0 Europe 2013 

Research provides knowledge, the basis for making right decisions. Just imagine what will happen if the patients, their relatives – the citizens themselves becomes partners in the field of science as well as in communication and treatment? I decided to raise $1.2 million (£780,000, €920,000) in 90 days for a clinical trial through the crowd-funding campaign MEandYou, and succeeded.

MEandYou logo stående

Crucial Funding For Crucial Trial
The goal was to find a way to fund a confirmatory trial of the effects of the immune drug Rituximab on ME/CFS at Haukeland Hospital in Norway. Ninety days, because that was the time I could confidently commit to: I, a ME/CFS-patient and a Doctor of Medicine, had gone from bedridden to completely rehabilitated on Rituximab in a pilot study at the Haukeland hospital, at the same time, I knew that 80% of patients relapsed after several months.

In November of 2012, Norway’s Medical Research Council rejected funding for the crucial second phase in the clinical trial, I decided to do it myself and mobilize people who believed in knowledge and research. For 90 days I used my skills and insight in how social media inner

communication works to involve, engage, trigger and lead people for action. My main communication and action-channel was Facebook, with the MEandYou-site functioning more like an archive.

Share, Spread and Engage
The campaign rapidly went international and patients and supporters from all over the world engaged in making it happen. MEandYou got massive support from patients, their relatives, politicians, prominent intellectuals, writers and celebrities.

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The Norwegian Premier League gave away t-shirts with the players signatures, some donated their player bonuses and companies donated large sums and one even donated a valuable industrial elevator for auction. MEandYou became very visible during the 90 days of positive vibes and money-collection. For every patient funded for the trail, elements like this was spread worldwide, through borderless social media.

Science From Empty Drinks-Can
A lot of people who might normally not support science, or wouldn´t even have been the slightest interested in what the researchers do, became passionately engaged. Tyr, for instance, a heavy metal rocker, did it his way. He went on a drinks-can refund odyssey. Watch the video of how Tyr made a rocking good crowdfunder:Tyr and cans

After 90 days, over 3,700 people from 49 countries donated more than €355,000 ($474,000 £305,000 ). In the inventory of MEandYou, I described some of the activities in the first 80 days. During those days, I were all over the traditional media, including the international Der Spiegel.

Govermental Turnarounds
88 days after launching, and after a long wait, the good news came out –  Norway’s Medical Research Council had given a large grant to the trial and the trial is now fully financed and ready to start this spring. The Council took a turnaround and decided to fund the remaining sum, admitting that the debate about this trial, had had impact on their decision.

Crowdfunding The Future
I made my own crowdfunding site and tools at www.meyou.no , but there are a lot of sites that offers a platform for people to crowdfund from. The projects on Kickstarter, has fundraised $ 400 million since 2009. The most common projects though, are creative projects, such as films, books and music albums.

Fortunatly, in the past year, different crowd-fundingsites for medical projects has arisen. MedStartr is one they promote their site as a platform where patients, doctors and companies are funding healthcare innovation.

ConSano is a brand new platform, focusing on clinical research and knowledge, doing the same thing as I did – crowd-funding for medical research, non-profitable. Unlike me, Consano has a variety of different projects for you to pick from.

Money talks. Small amounts of money from a great crowd, makes a huge pile – a huge difference and a loud shout. When the health budgets are getting tighter and the needs get bigger, crowd-funding might be one of the solutions for the future. Would you join in?

DSC_1856Maria Gjerpe is a medical doctor, experienced a long term illness and has used social media for years, discussing healthcare system and communication with www.MariasMetode.no and @MariasMetode as her main platform. She is on stage for Health 2.0 Europe November 17-19. Register now!

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