The Internet and Healthcare: Friend or Foe

Added by Branwen Hide on 04 August 2008 13:23

When one talks about health care and the internet, one immediately starts to talk about the pros and cons of health websites, and about being able to purchase pharmaceutics online.

One rarely, if ever, thinks about other ways of using the internet with regards to health care.

Researchers from the Children?s Hospital in Boston and Harvard medical school (BMJ 2008; 337:a742), recently developed an automated data gathering system (HeathMap) which crawls the internet gathering information from non-traditional information sources such as online forums and news outlets, to track emerging infectious disease. In conjunction with reports from existing agencies, one should now be able to develop a more comprehensive view of the current global state of infectious diseases and their effect on human and animal health much earlier, which is advantageous to those in both public health and infectious diseases research.

There has also been an explosion of Web 2.0 activities with regards to healthcare, with the NHS embracing several ideas through the NHS Choices supersite. However the site is creating some controversy. The site allows patients to read anonymous reviews of individual doctors within the UK and is searchable by name, location and specialty. One can understand why many doctors may be alarmed, but the majority of the reviews are actually quiet positive. The question remains as to whether or not this will change the relationship between patient and practitioner.

© Research Information Network 2005–2009