1) It's making a bold call for Openness with our medical and health information, arguing that this information is more powerful out and shared and aggregated than locked up and protected.
2) It is an emerging research tool, allowing patients to gather together and consolidate their sometimes anecdotal subjective experience with disease into collective bodies of knowledge, that can create real-time insights into treatments.
3) It is, perhaps most of all, a way for individual patients to actively improve the way their manage their disease. My feeling, as I've written here before, is that all Americans are going to fall under some rubric of 'diseased', in part simply because we're diagnosing earlier and identifying risk earlier. So we will all be managing our health actively, by the numbers, as the members of PatientsLikeMe are now.
If you read the story, please drop me a line to let me know what you think - or better yet, comment here, so that we can craft a dialogue. I'll be following up with reactions over the next few days.
Oh, and here's a link to an interview I did on the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC about the story and some related issues concerning off-label prescriptions.