Health and the Internet: still Web 1.0

July 10, 2007

Finally I am going to York on 5 and 6 September 2007 to attended to Towards a Social Science of Web 2.0 Conference. The Programme is already available and looks very interesting. It will be a great opportunity to discuss about what’s going on among Web 2.0 and social science.

I will be there presenting Health and the Internet: still Web 1.0


All the actors involved in healthcare systems are facing the introduction and use of ICT, especially the Internet. Due to the dynamic of these technologies, those actors are in front of another challenge related to Web 2.0. But this concept is being questioned by empirical research in many fields. Internet and Health is one of them.

As a part of a research project on Technological Modernization, Organizational Change and Service Delivery in the Catalan Public Health System, directed by Prof. Manuel Castells (1), an online survey to citizens, physicians, nurses, pharmacist and patient support groups was launched during 2006 and also 1303 web sites about health were analyzed.

The content web site analysis revealed that approximately 70% of the sites provided a telephone contact number, postal address and email and 55% had health contents. But just less than 10% of the sites had applications related to communication that could enable social relationships among health actors.

The surveys showed that most of healthcare professionals looked for specialized information in the Internet and just a few of them published content online, took part in virtual forums or had a blog. The email is mainly used to get in touch with other colleagues, not with patients or citizens.

Another output from the surveys was that citizens also use the Internet as an information source. Most of them are not involved in any virtual interaction process with healthcare professionals, healthcare organizations or other citizens.

Conclusions, as the paper will show, reveal that the Internet is mainly an information source with a scant use of Web 2.0. Most of communication and interaction processes are not supported by the Net. Two seem to be the main reasons: poor suitability of existing applications and low intensity of use by the different health actors, especially by healthcare providers.

(1) This research project, supported by Health Government of Catalonia, is included in the research programme Project Internet Catalonia directed by Manuel Castells and Imma Tubella. The whole results will be published at IN3 website.

I am proud to be in the same session with Michael Hardey form York and Peter Giger from Blekinge – Sweden. Michael Hardey will present “From user to participant: web 2.0 and the transformation of health information” and Peter Giger will present “Web 2.0 based low carb community in Sweden and tradition of food administration and dietary advice”. Discussion is served.

Ismael Peña and Enric Senabre will be there too.