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June 16, 2008 at 10:51 AM

Ex-Amazon GM launches Trusera social health info network

Talk about making lemonade from lemons.

Ex-Amazon.com GM Keith Schorsch’s new venture, Trusera, began with a nasty tick bite on a family vacation to the East Coast in 2004.

The tick gave him Lyme Disease, but a series of doctors back in Seattle couldn’t figure out what was making him sick. Schorsch had access to good doctors — he’s on the Hutch board — but none could figure it out.

Finally, a friend who had lived in Connecticut heard about his symptoms and called and left a voice message suggesting that he be checked for Lyme.

Schorsch said the problem was that he was out of context, and didn’t have a way to easily tap into the expertise of a community more familiar with the disease.

“Had I been in a diner in Northern New Jersey when my symptoms started I probably would have been diagnosed right away by nine out of 10 people in the diner,” he said.

Trusera is designed to give people access to that sort of knowledge. It’s a Web community where people can discuss and share information about medical conditions, including their personal stories and information they’ve gathered. Users can rank each other’s advice and accumulate karma points for their participation.

Schorsch said there’s opportunity since the Web has become the first stop for people seeking health information and advice.

“There’s a sea change going on right now in the consumer’s health experience,” he said. “That sea change is that individals are taking more and more control of their health both out of necessity and convenience.”

The ad-supported business was started in early 2007 and began its beta phase three months ago. Last June it raised $2 million from angel investors, including former Amazon and Expedia executives.

Could Trusera become part of the personal health networks that Microsoft and Google are developing?

“We’re watching with great interest as they build their platforms. We think there’s a lot of opportunity for syndicating both the tools and the content we’re creating,” Schorsch said.

For now the company is focused on building its library of user-generated material.

“We want to be a thought leader and a contributor to this new era of trust in other people’s content,” he said.

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