The seventh international conference on the internet and medicine, MEDNET was recently held in Amsterdam. As a largely technical forum, many of the papers lacked a clear evaluation component. As with the medical informatics literature there was a huge pre-occupation with quality and the kite-marking of quality.
For me, the most interesting papers centred around patient empowerment. For example, Peter Rutherford et al. reported on the website (www.kidneypartientguide.org.uk) that they developed with the help of kidney patients. Initial evaluation of the site has been conducted highlighting the needs of users that cold be utilized as guidelines for others creating patient oriented websites. As part of the Internet Healthcare Coalition day, Lone Hummelshoj gave an interesting paper about the website that she edits, EndoZone.org, which is a website that aims to empower both health professionals and the public.
In our paper, “They question the nurses so much more now”, we explored nurses views of patients use of the Internet for health information and health discussion forums. We concluded with a discussion of ways to overcome the perceived threat of the public use of online health resources. Essentially, health professionals themselves need strategies for empowerment and engaging with the technology.