I’m very big on the power of online communities, mostly because I’ve seen some of the amazing things that can happen when strangers unite online and come together for a common cause or to help “one of their own,” even if they only know them through the community.

It is always nice to read about companies developing online communities because for me, it validates the power they possess and the importance I just mentioned.

I firmly believe that we have yet to tap into the potential of online communities and see the results that a well-nurtured community with a purpose can provide.

Apparently, Pfizer agrees. The pharmaceutical company is hoping to ” unlock the power of online communities to help it recruit more people for clinical trials,’ according to this press release.

Here’s an excerpt:

Pfizer has teamed up with specialist company Private Access to develop a site which allows users to grant online access to their medical records to doctors and healthcare professionals, but otherwise keep them secure and confidential.

The US pharma company is the first to pioneer the system, which could help address the industry-wide problem of recruiting the right patients for clinical trials.

Pfizer’s portal will also encourage social networking and allow patients to share their experience of taking part in clinical trials, which the company clearly hopes will encourage more to take part. The new platform and online community will be rolled out in phases, with the initial launch planned for late 2009.

Finding and recruiting patients who are eligible to take part in trials is apparently a very costly measure. This will help curb some of those cost and I am hoping that it will spread the word about these opportunities due to the large percentage (nearly 85% according to Pfizer)  unaware that clinical trials are even a possible treatment option.

Kudos to Pfizer. Looks like there might be an interesting, rewarding community manager position on the horizon.

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