Saturday, August 9, 2008

A conference about Web 2.0 as it relates to medicine and health

A conference about Web 2.0 as it relates to medicine and health

Medicine 2.0™ is an international conference on Web 2.0 applications in health and medicine, organized and co-sponsored by the Journal of Medical Internet Research, the International Medical Informatics Association, the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation, CHIRAD, and others. (When I first saw the announcement, I squirmed a bit at the "2.0" modifier and its trademark notice--doesn't 2.0 seem to be overused these days?) Anyhow, here's how the conference organizers define Medicine 2.0:

Medicine 2.0 applications, services and tools are Web-based services for health care consumers, caregivers, patients, health professionals, and biomedical researchers, that use Web 2.0 technologies as well as semantic web and virtual reality tools, to enable and facilitate specifically social networking, participation, apomediation, collaboration, and openness within and between these user groups.

The conference chair, Dr. Gunther Eysenback provides an illustration that depicts the scope and definition of the term:

The recurring themes, captured at the center of the diagram, are familiar ones--participation,openness, collaboration. But I must confess that I had to look up the word "apomediation," which seems to have been coined by Dr. Eysenback.

In the health context, disintermediation (cutting out the middleman) means a more direct access of consumer to their personal data (e.g. in web accessible EHRs . . .) and general medical information (on the web . . . ) with all its advantages and hazards. The main problem of cutting out the gatekeeper is that the traditional role of the middleman is to guide consumers to relevant and credible information . . . and that by bypassing the middleman consumers/users may “get lost” in the vast amount of information. Apomediation theory conceptualizes that “apomediaries” (which includes Web 2.0 approaches) can partly take over the role of the intermediary and “push” or “guide” users to relevant and accurate information.

Apomediaries, then, are exemplified by Web-based services and tools that "let people collaborate on a massive scale and share information online in new ways, including social networking sites, social bookmarking, blogs, wikis, [etc.]."

Back to the conference, which is set to take place in Toronto in September . . . Medicine 2.0 is intended to be a broader, more encompassing experience than Matthew Holt's Health 2.0 event. The conference is expected to attract more of an academic audience than a business one, and will have an international focus. It will go beyond being consumer-facing to " bring together (and foster collaboration between) different stakeholders and user communities." And it will consider other possible outcomes beyond "health" that may result from the application of Web 2.0 to the art and science of medicine: "cost-savings, improved communication and trust between different stakeholders, improved quality, convenience, user-experience etc."

Sounds interesting, even for non-academic types. See you there?


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