Founder of British interactive patient sites dies

The driving force behind popular British interactive patient sites HealthTalkOnline and YouthHealthTalk has died.

Dr. Ann McPherson, 65, died May 28 after a four-year struggle with pancreatic cancer. Dr. McPherson, a general practitioner at Oxford University, came up with the idea for a patient-experience site 15 years ago while fighting her own battle with breast cancer, E-Health Insider reports.

Dr. McPherson and Dr. Andrew Herxheimer, a former editor of the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin, founded predecessor site DIPEx in 2001, long before the phrase “health 2.0″ gained acceptance. Their organization, the DIPEx Charity, divided the site into HealthTalkOnline for adults and YouthHealthTalk for teens, children and their families in 2008. Numerous British celebrities, including actor Hugh Grant and Radiohead singer Thom Yorke, have become public supporters of the charity.

She co-authored the 1987 book, Diary of a Teenage Health Freak, which has sold more than 1 million copies worldwide, according to an obituary in The Guardian. The book spawned a TV show in the U.K. in the early 1990s, and later, the still-active Teenage Health Freak Web site.

Dr. McPherson won the BMJ’s 2011 Healthcare Communicator of the Year award in April.