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Diabetes Monitor

By David Mendosa

Last Update: August 23, 2004

Since endocrinologists are the doctors who deal with diabetes, you might expect that they would run many of the Web sites about diabetes. After all, the United States alone has about 3,500 board-certified clinical endocrinologists, a spokesperson for the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists told me.

Just one is truly outstanding.

In fact, I have diligently searched the Web and have been able to find only five sites run by endocrinologists. All of these sites have some value, but just one is truly outstanding. Diabetes Monitor, is the gift to the Internet community of Dr. William W. Quick. He is a board-certified endocrinologist in private practice as the medical director of the Midwest Diabetes Care Center near Kansas City.

I don't know where Dr. Quick finds the time, but he also reviews physicians who have had malpractice actions or complaints filed against them in another job working for the state of Missouri. He is an ardent networker too. He and his wife Stephanie Schwartz, a Registered Nurse who is also a Certified Diabetes Educator, even found time last year to visit me in Santa Cruz, California. I consider him a friend and have called him Bill since I first corresponded with him. Unlike with most doctors, that feels normal, because Bill is an informal and approachable guy.

But more than anything, Bill is generous in sharing his diabetes knowledge. Don't take it from me. Look around his Web site for yourself as do about 13,000 people each month. You are sure to find much to expand your knowledge.

Bill divides his site into four parts. Just one part of Diabetes Monitor, which he calls the Diabetes Mentor, consists primarily of what he has written himself. But this section consists of about 50 separate articles on everything from how to find a new diabetes doctor to current and upcoming medications.

The other three parts of his site are essentially links arranged in different ways. What he calls the Diabetes Registry generally includes Web pages dedicated to a single diabetes topic organized by subject. The section he calls Diabetes on the Web is for links to sites that are more diffuse. A third section, On-line Resources, is a mirror of my pages that link and describe every substantive site on the Web.

Bill tells me that recently his most popular page has been about troglitazone (Rezulin) [subsequently discontinued]. His own favorite area consists of his What's New pages. The What's New pages go back to August 1995, shortly after Bill put up the site in May of that year.

I asked him if he started it primarily to recruit patients. "No, but I don't know what I was doing," he admits with a laugh. "I was thrilled that you could actually use Web browsers rather than the old stuff like gopher and Archie that I still don't understand. I had Web access and looked around and couldn't find much on diabetes. So I developed my home page, and it just grew."

Bill says that only two or three of his patients came to him because they found his Web site. "It's more the reverse," he says. "My patients who are Web-literate learn about my Web site from me." He puts his Web address on his business card, letterhead, and on the patient instruction form he gives them to take home.

If it's not to attract patients, then why does Bill work so hard on his Web site? He gives three very different answers to this question. First, he says that it is his hobby. Second, he laughs and calls it an addiction. His third reason must be the most serious one, because it's the one he says the most about.

"The future of patient education is the Internet," Bill maintains. This applies especially to people with chronic diseases that require a high degree of input from patients—and diabetes is certainly at the top of this list, he says.

"Who is going to teach this?" Bill asks. "Who are the resource people going to be? Who will be the cheer leaders for the future of patient education?" Bill Quick doesn't say so explicitly, but he clearly has positioned himself as one of these leaders. 

The American Diabetes Association originally published this article on its Web site as one of my “About the Internet” columns.

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