Monthly Archives: May 2007

Putting health into the patient's hands or into the markets' hand?

has posted about his speech at the 2007 American Medical Association of Informatics (AMIA) Spring Congress talking about Putting health into the patient’s hands. I do not have any doubt about Google’s capacity to innovate in healthcare field. But probably because in most countries in Europe we have a welfare state model who allow us to have some rights related to healthcare system I wonder who is going to get most of the benefit of those applications as far as the market mechanism does not work well with public good as Health.

You can take a look of what could happen at Jonathan Zittrain’s blog

Infodemiology: a key issue for Web 2.0 in Health

In 2002 Gunter Eysenbach wrote “Infodemiology: The Epidemiology of (Mis)information” describing the emergence of a new research discipline and methodology focus on the study of the determinants and distribution of health information and misinformation. As the author said

Information epidemiology, or infodemiology, identifies areas where there is a knowledge translation gap between best evidence (what some experts know) and practice (what most people do or believe), as well as markers for “high-quality” information.

So there is gap between scientific knowledge and lay knowledge related to the information available on the Net. This gap could be tackled increasing communication between the health professional, those who produce the scientific knowledge, and citizens, those who consume the scientific knowledge. But are most of the health professional available on line? Are they using the Web 2.0 tools to communicate with their patients? Are health care organizations providing these tools? Are Hospital Information Systems ready to facilitate these kind of interactions?

Without a doubt the Internet has increased the amount of the available health information but it does not have the same consequences on the communication process. As far as Web 2.0 is related to interaction there is still a long way for these kind of applications in Health.

Some resources about Wikis

Last week I asked some colleagues for references about wikis. There are many people talking to much about Web 2.0 and Health even about Health 2.0 but there is a lack of scientific evidence about those buzzwords. Of course something is going on about Health and Web 2.0 but I guess that most of the time we are talking about a kind of avant-garde so far from ordinary people. Anyway I would like to share what the colleagues sent me.

Enric Senabre sent me:

I also asked for help to Adolfo Estalella who sent me this article Collaborative Authoring on the Web: A Genre Analysis of Online Encyclopedias and introduce me by email David Gomez Fontanills who sent me some useful links about a project called GERMINATOR and his about wiki.

Thanks very much for share your resources.

A typology of Information and Communication Technology Users by PEW INTERNET

On May 7 PEW INTERNET & AMERICAN LIFE PROJECT publised “A Typology of Information and Communication Technology Users“. Here is the Summary of Findings at a Glance:

  • Omnivores: 8% of American adults constitute the most active participants in the information society,consuming information goods and services at a high rate and using them as a platform for participation and self-expression.
  • The Connectors: 7% of the adult population surround themselves with technology and use it to connect with people and digital content. They get a lot out of their mobile devices and participate actively in online life.
  • Lackluster Veterans: 8% of American adults make up a group who are not at all passionate about their abundance of modern ICTs. Few like the intrusiveness their gadgets add to their lives and not many see ICTs adding to their personal productivity.
  • Productivity Enhancers: 9% of American adults happily get a lot of things done with information technology, both at home and at work.
  • Mobile Centrics: 10% of the general population are strongly attached to their cell phones and take advantage of a range of mobile applications.
  • Connected but Hassled: 9% of American adults fit into this group. They have invested in a lot of technology, but the connectivity is a hassle for them.
  • Inexperienced Experimenters: 8% of adults have less ICT on hand than others. They feel competent in dealing with technology, and might do more with it if they had more.
  • Light but Satisfied: 15% of adults have the basics of information technology, use it infrequently and it does not register as an important part of their lives.
  • Indifferents: 11% of adults have a fair amount of technology on hand, but it does not play a central role in their daily lives.
  • Off the Net: 15% of the population, mainly older Americans, is off the modern information network.

Source: Horrigan, John B. A Typology of Information and Communication Technology Users. Washington, DC: Pew Internet & American Life Project, April 2007 (see at ICTconsequences Bibliography)

I really recommend the reading of this article because it is based on a survey with a clear methodological approach and also because their results will help us to understand the use of the Internet, Web 2.0, and their consequences in any field, health included.

A few year ago Parasuraman wrote Technology Readiness Index (Tri): A Multiple-Item Scale to Measure Readiness to Embrace New Technologies. If you read the abstract below you can find some points in common.

The role of technology in customer-company interactions and the number of technology-based products and services have been growing rapidly. Although these developments have benefited customers, there is also evidence of increasing customer frustration in dealing with technology-based systems. Drawing on insights from the extant literature and extensive qualitative research on customer reactions to technology, this article first proposes the construct of technology readiness of people and discusses its conceptualization. It then describes a program of research that was undertaken to operationalize the construct, develop and refine a multiple-item scale to measure it, and assess the scale’s psychometric properties. The article concludes with a discussion of potential practical applications of the scale and an agenda for additional research aimed at deepening our understanding of technology’s role in marketing to and serving customers.

The key point for me is that both analysis have a demand approach. I wonder what will we the consequences of adding the typology of users of ICT or the TRI as a variable in the demand of healthcare services. Will Omnivores users demand more or less healthcare services than the indiferents users?

An open call for Health Wikis

Although the research I have been working during these years shows a scarce use of Web 2.0 in the health field. There are many evidences on the Internet about Wikis and Health. David Rothman has a very interesting list of Medical Wikis and John Sharp has posted Medical Wikis – a follow up.

Those pioneer wikis should be followed because they can show us the pathway to understand the use of social Internet in Health.

I am going to pick up as many experiences about Wikis and Health as I can in my own Wiki. I will appreciate any link you could sent me to flupianez[at]

WHO adopts Wikipedia approach for key update

Ismael Peña has sent me this headline WHO adopts Wikipedia approach for key update from Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. As the notice said WHO is embarking on one of its periodic updates of a system of medical coding called the International Classification of Diseases and it wants the world’s help doing it.

The new, more open approach to updating the disease classifications won’t be entirely wiki-esque. That process, with its anyone-can-edit approach, builds a degree of vulnerability into the end product, with some contributors deliberately planting false information for the fun of it.

With the ICD, people can propose changes and argue for them on a WHO-sponsored blog. But groups of subject matter experts will weigh and synthesize the suggestions, Jakob said.

This is not the first initiative of using Web 2.0 paradigm to generate knowledge in health (see for example AskDrWiki). But as far as I know it is the first time that a high level institution as WHO uses this kind of application in such an important field related to generate and code medical knowledge.

Web 2.0: a research point of view is launched

A few moths ago I posted about Web 2.0 and I concluded that further research is needed. It so happened that recently Prof. Dutton has announced the iCS Conference: Towards a Social Science of Web 2.0 held by the journal Information Communication & Society (iCS).

I propose to anyone who is interested in this topic to follow what will be going on in this event. I will try to be there.

The Internet and Health Communication. Experiences and Expectations

The Internet and Health Communication. Experiences and Expectations edited by Ronald E. Rice and James E. Katz provides an in-depth analysis of the changes in human communication and health care resulting from the Internet revolution.Even though the dynamics of change of Internet technologies, the framework proposed by Rice still helps us to understand the intersection of the Internet and health.


As the author said:

“Clearly,the intersection of the Internet and health communication is a socially significant, ethically and politically consequential, dynamic and innovative, intriguing and interesting, and methodologically challenging arena”.