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Medinfo 2001

Sept. 2-5 2001

A personal review by Rod Ward

The Medinfo 2001 conference is being held at the ExCel Centre in London Sept. 2-5 2001. This site contains my personal review and report, it is intended to help those unable to attend, but is not an official "proceedings". The official conference web site can be accessed at:

Day 2 - Tuesday Sept. 4th 2001

Personal Health Information Seeking : A qualitative review of the literature - Zoe Stavri
This speaker applied library and information science approaches to published studies in the area. She drew distinctions between personal and professional information seeking behavior and the changes brought about by the Internet, and issues around ethno-linguistic gatekeeping profiles. She highlighted the importance of personal health vocabularies amongst patients, rather than health professionals which has been the focus for the last few years. The models presented can be used to help identify likely health seeking behavior.
Zoe Stavri
Gunter Eysenbach A framework for improving the quality of health information on the world-wide-web and bettering public (e-)health: The MedCERTAIN approach. - Gunter Eysenbach.
Gunter set out the reasons underlying the EU funded MedCERTAIN project e.g. reliability & the consumers context deficit. A variety of existing quality issues and approaches e.g. badges & awards were discussed, but the need for descriptive metainformation by authors and others. The development of a "trustmark" approach was discussed and a vision of the future in which the users puts their details and quality preferences into their computer which would then be linked to metainformation provided by the authors using downstream filtering. This would also take into account the privacy preferences of the consumer.
Using W3C PICS & RDF filtering technology enables the dissemination of positive ratings. he described the four levels; 1 Transparency) author disclosure, 2 Checking) check by non-medical expert rater, 3 Trustmark) provided by medical experts and level 4) provided by researchers. based on HIDDEL language.
For more see:
Consumer satisfaction with telehealth advice - nursing - Betty Chang
This paper set out the use of telephone consultation with nursing triage and advice. The study looked at the quality of the consultation process and the relationship to health outcomes and satisfaction (quality of care).
B. Chang
The next session I attended was a workshop : On-line learning, partnerships and the virtual university chaired by Evelyn Hovenga & John Mantas
Prof Jim Turley described work in Texas for distributed education and the underlying educational models and theories, particularly with collaboration between institutions. The interdisciplinary and interactive components of their Masters in health Informatics were seen as vital with video conferencing "on demand". Jim Turley
Umberto Giani Virtual dynamic learning networks - Umberto Giani
A network of ideas and people using an asynchronous learning in undergraduate courses as on-line support or stand alone system. He demonstrated some of tools for teachers and students built into the network which is used with large numbers of students. He also proposed qualitative analysis of the communication, and the students contribution and activity during the course using cluster analysis to understand their learning styles. The intention is to tailor the course delivery to the students learning styles on a "just in time" principle.
A Framework for building Medical Informatics Courseware - Dr Paul McCulloch
Paul described the development of web based delivery. He considered some of the various tools available eg authorware & director, including examples from a course on Bayesian probability. The problems of various interfaces for different tutorials were explored and the development of a template to improve consitency described.
Paul McCullouch
Jana Zorova Exploring electronic textbooks for Biomedical Informatics and statistics education - Prof Jana Zvarava
She described the approach taken in Prague using LaTeX for text preparation. & LaTeX2html for the web.
Discussion following the presentations in this workshop focussed on pedagogical, technical and organisational issues related to the sharing of modules between different institutions.
Lunch included "e poster" presentations including our presentation led by Lisa Gray about the OMNI service. Thiss lked to some very useful and focused discussions about the evaluation of health related materials on the Internet, and future possible collaborations between different groups attempting to achieve quality filtering. Discussion included technological, human and semantic issues.
OMNI - e poster
The discussions following this over ran and a s a result I didn't attend any of the 14.00 papers but spent this time to visit the exhibition stands, check my email etc and again managed to get into some interesting discussions, in particular related to the use of the web for those working in "non-standard" ways.
The next session I attended was a workshop : Levelling the playing field: International initiatives to promote consumer health informatics. moderated by Betty Chang
The moderator and speakers are the chairs of the new IMIA SIG in consumer health informatics.
Alex Jadad Alex Jadad set the scene clarifying some purposes and context in a humourous way and touch on the histroy of change. Exploring the growing economic and digiatl divide, and some big problem in healthcare around the world and barriers (mostly sociological) to the increased us of technology for communication between patients and health professionals.
His key messages were about opportunities for international collaborations in e-health
Gunter Eysenbach used some cartoons about the electronic relationship between patients and healt professionals as an intro to the research areas of his group about information needs, search, quality and the impact of health information on consumers. They are currently analysing the queries asked of as an example of collaboration with commercial health portals. He briefly touched on a range of other projects before focussing on the quality of health information on the net eeg HONcode, health ethics groups & a range of approaches to accreditation of health information and MedCertain and it's sucessors to come, as an example of an international collaboration in the field. Gunter Eysenbach
General discussion followed examining issues around the evalutaion of internet health information.

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Disclaimer : These reports & pictures are being done "on the fly" during sessions, coffee breaks & over beers at the conference therefore errors are inevitable! I take full responsibility for these and if you spot any, or would like further information please contact me at:

Page Created: 1.9.01

Last Updated: 4.9.01