Health and the New Media: Technologies Transforming Personal and Public Health

Health and the New Media: Technologies Transforming Personal and Public Health

Health and the New Media: Technologies Transforming Personal and Public Health

Health and the New Media: Technologies Transforming Personal and Public Health


This book presents an evaluation framework for assessing the impact of the new media on the health care system by juxtaposing characteristics of emerging information and communication technologies (interactive, seamlessly connected, and user-driven) and health care objectives (to increase access, improve quality, and manage costs). Each chapter provides a unique set of tools and perspectives on how to harness these new media to improve individual health and the health care delivery system. This innovative volume has also stimulated the creation of a "Forum on Health and the New Media" on the World Wide Web (http://Health. The forum offers highlights of the book as well as links to the authors and related web sites.

The volume is divided into six sections as follows:

• The "Overview" juxtaposes characteristics of the new media (interactive, connected, and user-driven) with the three criteria for health care improvement: increased access, improved quality, and cost management. It offers a New Media and Health Care matrix of criteria for building and evaluating emerging health care systems.

• The "Delivery" -- how new media can enhance the delivery of health care -- includes chapters on: managed care, demand management and self-care, telemedicine for rural residents, and how the Internet can be used to facilitate collaboration among health researchers and providers.

• Health Information -- the life blood of health care -- addresses the potential for: extending the traditional flow of health information (from researchers to providers) to reach patients who want to share in decisions about their care; and the federal government's role in providing health information to the public.

• Health Education discusses: integrating multimedia health programming for public schools; using networked multimedia and simulation technologies and new learning theories that promise to transform public health education; and educating health providers and patients through interactive media and drama.

• Potholes Along the Highway provides a sobering balance to otherwise rather optimistic assumptions that a national information infrastructure will be forthcoming.

• The New Media: Annotated Glossary provides computing and networking technology tools for readers who are not fluent in cyberlanguage.


This book sprang from a forum on interactive multimedia and health care held November 1992 in Washington, DC. The meeting was cohosted by the assistant secretary for health, head of the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS), and the deputy assistant secretary for commerce, head of the National Technology and Information Agency (NTIA). The conference was sponsored by the PHS, NTIA, the National Demonstration Laboratory for Interactive Information Technology at the Library of Congress, The Interactive Multimedia Lab at Dartmouth Medical School, The Center for Technology, Policy and Industrial Development at MIT, AT&T, Bell Atlantic, MACRO International, and Picture Tel. Its purpose was to bring health policy makers and new media researchers together "to promote informed design, production, and use of multimedia for the promotion of health and prevention of disease." Rarely had representatives from these two domains interacted; the conference became a cross-cultural experience for many and, I believe, the breeding ground of new professional relationships.

There was, of course, a certain amount of enchantment in the conference air. Mitch Kapor, founder of Lotus Development Corporation, participated from his Cambridge, Massachusetts, office via interactive television. For some participants, this was their first experience of real-time interactive teleconferencing. For the old hands, it was a thrill just to see the technology, ever flirting with failure, come through "just in time." Multimedia presentations, stapled and scotch-taped together behind the scenes, actually dazzled as intended. And, on occasion, technology wizards and health policy wonks crossed language and cultural divides to proclaim awe for each others' work.

The Forum on Interactive Multimedia and Health Care was not really . . .

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