Health Web Science – Definition, Scope, and How It Complements Medicine 2.0

Joanne S. Luciano* Christopher Jo Baker*
Joanne S. Luciano*, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, United States
Grant Cumming, National Health Service, Morray, United Kingdom
Christopher Jo Baker*, University of New Brunswick, New Brunswick, Canada
Eva Kahana, Case Western Reserve University, Clevland, United States

Track: Business
Presentation Topic: other
Presentation Type: Oral presentation
Submission Type: Single Presentation

Building: Joseph B. Martin Conference Center at Harvard Medical School
Room: B-Bray Room
Date: 2012-09-15 05:30 PM – 06:15 PM
Last modified: 2012-09-10
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This presentation invites dialogue between Medicine 2.0, the “New Generation of Medicine” and Health Web Science, a newly established and rapidly growing subfield within mainstream Web Science that focuses on multidisciplinary medico-socio-technological issues. By developing shared understandings and appreciating both convergence and divergence in these alternative disciplinary orientations, innovation and communication can be maximized.

What is web science?
This presentation looks at the possibilities and challenges for developing an area of Web Science dedicated to health, medicine and wellbeing. Web science, in short, is the science of analysis and synthesis of the World Wide Web, and other web-like information structures. The scope of Web Science encompasses engineering issues, analytical methodological as well as governance issues. Web Science is required both as a way to understand the Web and its emergent properties, and as a way to focus its development on key communicational and egalitarian/ representational requirements. The current central engineering issues in Web Science are the development of the Semantic Web, Web services and Peer-to-peer networks, where no dedicated server is involved. Analytic research approaches focus mostly on the Web’s topology, i.e. its graph-like structures and how descriptive/ representative they actually are. With the Web emerging as a social technology, issues and requirements for Web use and governance necessitate further study.

What is health web science?
The scope of Health Web Science mirrors that of web science – to understand how the web shapes and is shaped by medicine and healthcare and people. Of particular interest is the way that the web – in its many guises – web pages containing health information, interactive social media sites used by patient support groups and semantically linked data about health care – interacts and impacts on health in its broadest sense. Research, based in Health Web Science therefore studies how people use and shape the web related to health and wellbeing, and how the web (and the range of web technologies that use the internet) is and can be engineered or developed in relation to health, medicine and health care. Some of this moves health web science into the arena of health improvement and critical, perhaps participatory forms of research. For example research may focus on using and developing web-based applications that intend to influence people to adopt ’healthy’ behaviours. Alongside this it also includes research to understand how humans individually and in groups (as health professionals, patients, or communities co-create and engage with the web in areas of their life related to health medicine and wellbeing.

These approaches can be viewed as synergistic with concerns of Medicine 2.0 as they both broaden and deepen understandings related to health and web technology. The inaugural workshop in Health Web Science was held at the 4th ACM Web Science conference, Koblenz, Germany in 2011, with a second workshop planned for the 5th ACM Web Science conference in Evanston, Illinois, in 2012. A monograph was commissioned to synthesize contributions of this emergent field of study. We plan to outline this synthesis in the proposed presentation at Medicine 2.0.

Medicine 2.0® is happy to support and promote other conferences and workshops in this area. Contact us to produce, disseminate and promote your conference or workshop under this label and in this event series. In addition, we are always looking for hosts of future World Congresses. Medicine 2.0® is a registered trademark of JMIR Publications Inc., the leading academic ehealth publisher.
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