Time to Embrace Health 2.0

Authenticity is key to connecting with people around their health.

Utilizing technology to create behavior change takes an entrepreneurial spirit, passion to make a difference, and a holistic view of health.

A possible explanation for the reason that Health has generated its own “2.0” term are its applications across health care in general, and in particular it potential in public health promotion. One author describes the potential as “limitless”. (Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_2.0)

The Health 2.0 Conference is the leading showcase of cutting-edge technologies in health care, including Online Communities, Search and lightweight Tools for consumers to manage their health and connect to providers online. Above all, Health 2.0 remains a venue where innovation in technology is introduced and ground-breaking ideas are shared to drive change in the health care system.

Articles and videos from this conference are quite thought-provoking for our outreach and engagement coming out of academia.

See What’s the point of Health 2.0? for a video and article coming from this conference.  A final quote from the video:
“Use Technology to Expand the Human Element”

In 2007, I presented and wrote about PatientsLikeMe.com, a site that allows patients to share and help one another. I knew this idea was valuable to patients!

In the time since launch (2005), the company has expanded to 9 disease categories, with plans to expand to many more. The company was named as one of the “15 Companies that Will Change the World” by Business 2.0 and CNN Money.[2] It was also featured in a March, 2008 New York Time Magazine article entitled “Practicing Patients”[3] and in December 2008 on a television segment with Sanjay Gupta for the CBS Evening News.[4]

Wikipedia reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PatientsLikeMe


Social Networking Around Personal Health

Last year during a presentation, I mentioned the site PatientsLikeMe as an example of a platform that allows people to share health information with others and build a learning community.

I came across a paper that examined this type of social network that was interesting….Social Uses of Personal Health Information Within PatientsLikeMe, an Online Patient Community: What Can Happen When Patients Have Access to One Another’s Data.

Using search and browsing tools, members can locate other patients in similar circumstances and with shared medical experiences. Members discuss the profiles and reports as well as general health concerns through the Forum, private messages, and comments they post on one another’s profiles. The Forum is a threaded dialogue available to every member of the community to pose questions, research findings, share coping strategies, and so forth. Private messages are emails sent from one user to another within the site; they are not read by other users or site administrators. Comments are remarks that one user posts on another’s profile, which are viewable by anyone in the community. Users can delete comments from their own profile. Each contribution made using any of these functions is labeled with a graphic representation (the nugget) giving a snapshot view of the contributor’s history and health status; the nugget is also linked to the user’s complete profile.

Looking at sites and papers like this one continually give me ideas of innovative ways to do environmental health community education.  Research is important, but if the communities are not discussing and applying research findings, then the investment is not as valuable. It is all about the communities.

Virtual Health Promotion

An essay written by Richard Crespo reminded me of where I would like to go with community health education.   After some great examples of collaborative virtual projects, Crespo wrote:

What intrigues me about online communities is that the characteristics of community participation and ownership they exemplify are also fundamental to community health. Community health practioners, however, have fallen behind in applying these principles in the virtual world. In a recent report, an expert panel convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that public health officials should develop the idea of virtual community health promotion (7).

Crespo R. Virtual community health promotion. Prev Chronic Dis. 2007 Jul [10-30-07]. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2007/jul/07_0043.htm.

Living Conversations

The Today Show caught my attention today. For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a site was highlighted to share the voices and experiences of breast cancer survivors, called Living Conversations. It is a nice example of creating a platform for sharing experiences – a learning community.

Visit the site at: http://www.livingconversations.com/

Pink Ribbon

eHealth Literacy Model

Understanding the issues of health and science literacy is very important in my role as a community educator.  My passion is  new media, however I do recognize electronic health tools provide little value if the intended users lack the skills to effectively engage them.

I found an interesting article entitled, “eHealth Literacy: Essential Skills for Consumer Health in a Networked World“.   “Engaging with eHealth requires a skill set, or literacy, of its own.”  I found valuable the “Lily Model”, which presents a holistic approach to health promotion through new media and the web.

”The eHealth literacy model presented here is the first step in understanding what these skills are and how they relate to the use of information technology as a tool for health. The next step is to apply this model to everyday conditions of eHealth use—patient care, preventive medicine and health promotion, population-level health communication campaigns, and aiding health professionals in their work—and evaluate its applicability to consumer health informatics in general. Using this model, evaluation tools can be created and systems designed to ensure that there is a fit between eHealth technologies and the skills of intended users. By considering these fundamental skills, we open opportunities to create more relevant, user-friendly, and effective health resources to promote eHealth for all.”

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