Web 2.0 tools and its (possible) use in medicine

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The application of Web 2.0 to medicine spawned the term Health 2.0 and Medicine 2.0. While the use of web 2.0 tools in medicine is quite unclear, recent research on internet usage among one population is revealing. One third of the American population said they’ve used the internet for queries related to medicine and healthcare. Also, some 250,000 physicians utilized web 2.0 tools for their practice. These usage data is changing the medical environment and web 2.0 tools is taking a large role in it.

While most physicians barely scratched the surface of web 2.0 use some of us may have been using these web 2.0 tools unknowingly. The opportunity for clinical use is yet largely untouched for some reason. Others are afraid of losing the so called “personal touch” between physicians and patients – a clear misnomer because web 2.0 will probably never replace that set up. Most physicians simply don’t have the desire to.

Here are some of the web 2.0 tools that you might want checking out for its use on our practice.

Wiki (Medical Wiki e. g. Ask DrWiki)
An online collaboration of health care professionals who publish their articles, reviews and information to help end users (could be MDs or patients or both) about a certain health concern.

Blogs
Like this blog, is an online diary that chronicles ideas, discuss issues and publish viewpoints of a medical blogger. Publishing is almost immediate and venues for reader comments and reactions is encouraged.

RSS (Really Simple Syndication)
A method of rapidly receiving tidbits, summaries and news via subscription to a hundred interest sites. Acting like a filter and fine tuning the data received to where your interest lies.
You need an RSS reader to read all these online subscription of yours.

Podcast
Another name for audio blogging. Recorded voice (using mainstream media) further broaden the reach and collaboration between different end users.

Social Bookmarking
Blogs, podcast or websites can be submitted to a social bookmarking sites like Digg to increase the likelihood of it being stumbled upon by same interest web users.

Social Networking (e.g. Wellsphere)
Sites for online collaboration between physicians is growing more and more with social networking. It makes communication and collaboration between like minded individual, such as physicians to create their online presence and pursue advocacies.

Here is another example (taken from Health 2.0 Wiki) of web 2.0 use in medicine that is documented in literature.

Purpose Description Case example in academic literature Users
Staying informed Used to stay informed of latest developments in a particular field RSS, Podcasts and search tools[7] All (medical professionals and public)
Medical education Use for professional development for doctors, and public health promotion for by public health professionals and the general public How podcasts can be used on the move to increase total available educational time [8] or the many applications of these tools to public health [9] All (medical professionals and public)
Collaboration and practice Web 2.0 tools use in daily practice for medical professionals to find information and make decisions Google searches revealed the correct diagnosis in 15 out of 26 cases (58%, 95% confidence interval 38% to 77%) in a 2005 study[10] Doctors, Nurses
Managing a particular disease Patients who use search tools to find out information about a particular condition Shown that patients have different patterns of usage depending on if they are newly diagnosed or managing a severe long-term illness. Long-term patients are more likely to connect to a community in Health 2.0[11] Public

While web 2.0 and health 2.0 is here, its use is sometimes hampered because of issues which to some extent, web 2.0 is trying to overcome. The danger of inaccurate information and the loss of control over information tops this concern. The safety of online information is a constant subject of debates and research. But as web 2.0 evolve, perhaps the solution to these “problems” maybe apparent.

Dr. Remo-tito Aguilar co-founded #HealthXPh. A board certified orthopedic surgeon, he is previously Chief of Clinics at St. Louis Hospital in Tacurong City and a consultant in Orthopedics at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City. Dr. Aguilar is a healthcare social media evangelist and writes his medical musings at The Cast & Curious (www.remomd.com).

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