Healthcare Advocate Launches Website Targeting the Patient Community

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The Barking Zebra envisions becoming the go-to site for the patient community as a source of information on how to become an empowered and educated patient while providing links to authentic medical research sites, and an opportunity to shop for custom awareness and medical ID jewelry.

For patient advocate Suzi Garber, a Philadelphia native, two cancer diagnoses and heart disease changed her retirement dream of having a boutique shopping site. Her recently launched site, The Barking Zebra, http://www.barkingzebra.net, instead sells medical IDs, awareness and inspirational jewelry, gifts for the patient and publishes a newsletter called The Practical Patient which is targeted towards educating and empowering patients to become equal partners in their healthcare. The website donates a portion of its Zebra Room sales to cancer research with an emphasis on neuroendocrine tumors (a rare cancer). Garber describes the site as a place you can "shop for knowledge while buying a gift."

The site’s name, The Barking Zebra, http://www.barkingzebra.net, was conceived after Garber heard a recording of a herd of zebras - they actually do bark. Although the site’s name is whimsical, its inventory is geared to those who live with a chronic disease, their advocates, and other patients who have special needs. Its message is for everyone: Educate and enable yourself to become an equal partner in your own healthcare which is the basic premise of the e-Patient movement.

The Barking Zebra showcases a curated collection of many jewelry items beyond the traditional styles of awareness and medical ID pieces, but Garber felt she wanted to do more for the community. As a support group founder and leader, patient advocate and liaison, and former nonprofit marketing executive, Garber, a chronically ill patient herself, realizes the importance of awareness and grass roots advocacy, so she writes a monthly newsletter “The Practical Patient”, http://www.barkingzebra.net/practicalpatient.asp, whose goal is to provide resources to educate, equip, engage, and enable patients to navigate the healthcare system alongside their physicians as equal partners.

Garber also realized that a number of nonprofits have missions that preclude selling their own awareness items, or don’t have adequate staff resources to allocate beyond mission-related tasks. As a result she has designed a marketing program exclusively for nonprofits. Each nonprofit will have its own “branded” subdomain on the Barking Zebra site with a few select awareness items for sale. Barking Zebra handles the marketing and online sales. Its first partnership will be with the Patients’ Project, a patient advocacy and educational nonprofit. By turning its focus to the patient community, the Barking Zebra’s goal is to become an innovative go-to site for informational resources, services, and shopping for the patient community.

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Suzi F. Garber
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