This month's edition of Medicine 2.0 focuses on connections. You'll learn how new technologies are empowering patients by connecting them with their own health records, connecting patients and paramedics with doctors, and connecting doctors with each other.
Nothing connects like Web 2.0.
Let's hit the Midway!
Many submissions to this carnival certainly captured the carnival spirit. I had just become resigned to the notion of scouring the internet myself, looking for posts that would fit today's collection, when a couple of days ago, I was inundated with email submissions.
Great! I thought, assembling this carnival will be a piece of cake.
Little did I know that the meaning of the phrase "Medicine 2.0" would pose such a mystery to some of our submitters. Many of submitters seemed to have me confused with P.T. Barnum. For a brief time I wondered if aspiring bloggers had hacked the spam mail directory in my gmail account. I never knew there were sooo many natural cures (Red henna cures hair loss?! Who knew? Amazing stuff!). But this is a carnival on new technologies in medicine, not New Age mythologies. So, for those of you who sent links about herbal remedies, garlic, acne prevention, homemade facial masks, weight training, hair loss, and the wonders of vegetables, those were some fun posts to read, but I just can't imagine anything "2.0" about a vegetable, no matter how good they taste.
The topic of the day in this section is Google Health. Google Health has the potential to empower patients by helping them gain control over their medical records. As a parent, I can see that something like Google Health could be pretty useful. I could more easily track when my kids (or my pets) had vaccinations and know when the next ones are due without relying on post cards from our doctor. Fred Trotter agrees. He writes "In all Fairness" that:
our ability to generate medical information has vastly outpaced our methods for handling that information.
and he makes a convincing argument that Google Health can be a good thing.
But, there is another side. David Hamilton, from BNET Industries, also writes about Google Health. In his "Seven Reasons Google Health is Overblown," Hamilton questions the usefulness of this tool, especially because subscribers are asked to enter their own data. He suspects that consumers will be trouble entering data accurately and spelling medical terms and drug names. In "Google Health Privacy: All Talk, No Teeth?," he wonders whether consumers will trust this service, and the extent of liability (on Google's part) should anything go wrong. It's precisely because patients enter their own data that this service is free from HIPPA oversight. HIPPA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, is the reason that we have to sign all those forms at the doctor's office, acknowledging that we know who is sharing our information. One of the best things about this article is that Hamilton links to a chart from Google comparing their privacy protections with those provided by HIPPA. Granted the information about HIPPA is provided by Google, but it's still a nice resource and I think most consumers would benefit from this summary outlining what HIPPA does and what it doesn't.
Hamilton isn't the only blogger who questions whether the public is ready to Google Health with their most personal information. Singh expands on this topic of trust in "Google Health Launched. Can We Entrust our Health to Google?" A younger public who readily posts college drinking pictures on their Facebook sites might be ready, but older people might not.
Patients and Paramedics Connecting with Doctors - through the web
Where would Medicine 2.0 be if it were just patients connecting with themselves? This next set of posts illustrates the potential for patients to connect with doctors and vice versa. Before we get to patients, there's a related post that I liked at Canadian Medicine. Sam Solomon describes something new and nifty in Kitchener MDs' BlackBerry-based ECGs are ahead of the curve. Solomon describes how paramedics in Canada are using handheld computers to send electrocardiogram results to emergency room cardiologists. Wow! I wish we would have had these in the days when I was an EMT.
Let's get back to patients connecting with doctors.
One place that doctors and patients are making connections is in Second Life. In "Doctor, I think I have a code." "It's just some bug," Revere, from Effect Measure, writes about people visiting Second Life and getting information and advice from Second Life doctors. It's a brave new second world, alright.
If you're not quite comfortable with visiting Second Life, and let's face it we're not all cut out to be an avatar, there is another route and many ways to "Call Your Doctor Online." In this post, at ScienceRoll, Bertalan Meskó reviews several sites that offer on-line communication with doctors, real doctors! Teaching on-line is complicated enough, but doctoring on-line? It's an interesting read.
One tool that will help make doctoring on-line effective, in the long run, is medical animation. If you like graphic arts, science, and computer technology, you may want to check out "Exploring Medical Animation as a Career" from Danogo.com.
If we can have e-doctors, of course, we can have e-patients. Susannah Fox and co-bloggers at The Health Care Blog imagine an era where medicine is more egalitarian. They are even starting a journal, "Journal of Participatory Medicine". (I wonder if it will be accessible to those e-patients or if they have to subscribe?) For more information, see "E-patients can and will revolutionize health care." This is fascinating stuff.
Doctors connecting with doctors
In the last part of our carnival, we have doctors connecting with doctors.
Joshua Schwimmer, at The Efficient MD considers the ways that doctors can better manage their time in Life Hacks for Doctors: An Introduction. In a related post, he describes how to Eavesdrop on Doctors and Medical Students on Twitter. I have yet to try Twitter, but I think it's like texting. One of my children says that she likes texting because you can just send a message and you don't have to stay on the phone talking if you don't have anything to say. I think Twitter embodies that philosophy. Short, quick, transient thoughts flying about and I would suspect a huge waste of time, if I didn't read this at Efficient MD.
Bertalan Meskó has a nice review of social networking services for the medically-included see "Community Sites for Scientists and Physicians: The List." Maybe you'd like to meet other people who work in your field, but your own cozy niche is a little too cozy. Bertalan presents an extensive review of social networking sites where scientists and physicians can get together on-line and meet each other and share information. You can learn more about someone who's been using one of these sites, from the Digital Pathology Blog, in Social networking: Does it really work?
That's all for now. If you've enjoyed this edition, be sure to visit the Medicine 2.0 carnival again, June 15th at Scienceroll.com.
Thank you, Sandra, for the great edition! I hope you will host another one in 2008.
I may. I do enjoy opportunities to research new things.
With specific regard to the Seven Reasons Google Health is overblown I believe David Hamilton missed the mark on reason number seven. While it is true that Google did not offer a pre-built application to export health data from the Google PHR it is possible to export the data. Google offer the Health Data API which enables health data to be read (i.e. exported). It will only be matter of time before some intrepid developer writes an export widget for Google Health.
Google API: http://code.google.com/apis/health/
Richard D. Chennault http://www.chennault.net
PS: I would have posted directly on David's blog but you have to register and sign up for the newsletter AND they promise to share your information with others.... No thank you.
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