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These reports were written by a team of local volunteers: Angela Merino, Assina Bounis, Celia Boyer, Eric Bianchi, Irčne Butor, Julian Albert Kilker and Melisa Makzume. The reports summarise information for people not able to attend the sessions. Their comprehensiveness and accuracy are not guaranteed. For more information, please contact the presenters directly. Their e-mail addresses are available at

Track 8: Health

Panel: Health Informatics for Consumers and Patients …

By Celia Boyer, 23 July 1998

Using Interactive Health Communication (HIC) in Disease Prevention and Management

Victor Strecher

Health professionals and health care providers aim to provide services and facilities to patients for their disease management and prevention. But what do people really want? Patients need to talk to other persons fighting against the same disease directly or indirectly with their family. The idea of the HIC is to protect the communication between patients and between the medical/health information services and to give them the power to care for themselves. We have the example of Richard Ward, living in Montana, who learned that he had a prostate cancer. His physician told him that the only solution was to remove the prostate. Richard intended to learn about his condition but in Montana there is no medical library, and then he go to the Web. On the Internet he found other prostate cancer patients exchanging information about their condition, their treatment, their feelings. This and discussion with medical professionals have informed him that there are other possibilities than to remove the prostate.

The Health Interactive Communication project has been possible thanks to the tobacco taxes which are quite high in Michigan, about 75 cents per packet. The money saved from the tobacco taxes were used to create the "Health’O’Vision" using interactive TV in a kiosk located within supermarkets and other public places.

"Health’O’Vision" provides an interactive and pleasant way to present information about severe diseases such as lung cancer, high blood pressure, immunisation, breast cancer. About 8 Channels currently inform people about the disease and the consequences of a special life style like smoking. This "interactive TV" has been elaborated in a way that even children are attracted and listen to what they hear. A channel for kids warns them about the risk of using a bike without wearing an helmet.

100 kiosks have been installed in the Michigan area. This experience is a great success. About 50,000 users per month are currently listening and watching this "Health TV".

To build this project a wide team from graphic designers, computer programmers, psychologists, physicians is involved and continue to add subjects to the "Health’O’Vision".


Barbara Holt

Gerotechnology is a new term invented by Barbara Holt defining computerised information on the Internet intended for the elderly.

We are in an ageing society, in the USA 26,1% of the population are over 50, and this percentage will increase. The world population is living longer than ever due to medical progress and efforts. But the elderly are not a static-minded population stuch in front of their TV waiting for time to go by. That may be the vision we have of them, but it is not accurate. The elderly are not afraid of technology and have the will to learn. Also this part of the population have the buying power but not always the capacity to go to the library to buy books. On the Internet these limitations of immobility do not exist. The elderly are linked together, exchanging recipes and chatting. They can buy books, they are active and they feel the power of being there and the sensation of being important and useful to the society.

The elderly have plenty of time and use it to surf the Internet. They spend 47 % longer on the Internet than the other users. If a site is interesting to the elderly, they will regularly visit it.

For the modest cost involved in using the Internet, it brings the elderly mobility, socialisation, communication with their family and mental stimulation. For them it is an interactive process, they do not stay passively in front of the TV, they exchange their feelings with little risk that the whole village knows about their ideas.

Sites for the elderly exist and help them to stay healthy economically. At the West Virginia University a World-Wide Web Center on Ageing has been developed including long term care services guide, conferences, a care-giver support network has been established and much more at  

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