Health Search and the Semantic Web

Before it gets too far behind us, I wanted to write briefly about the Health 2.0 Conference, which was held in San Francisco on October 22 and 23rd. The Health 2.0 Conference focuses on the application of Web 2.0 technologies to the fields of medicine and healthcare. Specifically, I wanted to comment on health search, the semantic web and the demonstration of the health 2.0 service iMedix.

Search engines today rely extensively on keywords. However, with health-related searches, context or meaning takes on great importance. Consider this: a study earlier this summer found that simply replacing the search term “vaccine safety” with “vaccine danger” replaced virtually all accurate search results (out of the first 20) with inaccurate results [1]. Granted, there are several limitations to the study (small sample size, controversial topic), but it nonetheless illustrates how a single keyword can dramatically alter search results.

Healthcare Self-Management Suggestions for e-Patients

We are witnessing a transformation of healthcare in the information age. The Internet has become a powerful healthcare resource for both physicians and patients. e-Patients represent a new type of informed health consumer, a term encompassing both primary patients who use the Internet to educate themselves about a given medical condition for their own illness and the friends and family members who go online on their behalf [1].