Sunday, 18 November 2007

What is Health 2.0 / Medicine 2.0?

This definition is written for two purposes:

  1. To clarify what Health 2.0 / Medicine 2.0 is for myself. I figured that if I was going to make a contribution to discussions in this arena, I had better first make sure I had my facts straight - this is a chance for me to say what I think I know, and then for all the Health 2.0 Seasoned Veterans out there to correct me/argue with me where any inaccuracies are identified.

  2. To explain in simple terms what Health 2.0 / Medicine 2.0 is to the medical professional who does not have a special interest in technology. I figure that if I can write one simple definition/explanation, I can save myself having to construct a comprehensive answer each time the question arises - I'll just reuse this one.

I understand that there are plenty of definitions/explanations already out there, so I ask for you patience whilst I take this opportunity to reinvent the wheel (and sorry if I may seem to be stating the obvious to some of you - the real target audience here is the doctor without much knowledge of IT terminology).

The Background - Web 2.0

Both Health 2.0 and Medicine 2.0 are derived from the term Web 2.0, which implies a second generation/release of the Internet.

The '2.0' part is based on computer programming - as a new edition of a an application is released, it is common practice for the programmers to add an incrementing number at the end of a program's name, to label the new version. A completely new release would see the increment of the whole number, and any intermediate releases (often referred to a 'patch', as it may be patching up problems with a previous release) would see an increment to the decimal number. An example of this is Internet Explorer 7.0 - there have already been small patches to fix Internet Explorer - mine currently says that I am on version 7.0.5730.11 - I guess if there is a substantial release that enhances IE 7.0, but is still fundamentally the same program, it may be called IE 7.1, 7.2, etc - a new generation of IE could for example be called IE 8.0

Web 2.0 implies the 'second release' of the Internet - which of course is not based on anything concrete - the Internet being made up of millions of interconnecting computers running lots of different programs - but is more of a concept to describe the type of programs/applications/functionality one can now find on the Internet.

The Internet was originally based on mostly static pages of information. Soon to follow were email, web forums and chat rooms where discussions could take place. Web 2.0 refers to a trend on the Internet that saw a step forward in the way we communicate on the Internet, which includes the use of blogs, videos, podcasts, wikis and online communities where people with common interests get together to share ideas, media, code and all types of information. RSS (really simple syndication) is a format/method to help pass around updates about all this new information we are now broadcasting.

Think of the Internet like a big brain - there is no 'central repository' of information - it is stored in lots of different locations, but each part of the brain has its own important part to play. Web 1.0 was a bit like the brain cells developing and Web 2.0 is what is happening now that communications are taking place between those cells.

Health 2.0 / Medicine 2.0

So now you know what Web 2.0 is, the rest is easy. Health 2.0 is the application of Web 2.0 technologies in the area of health, whilst Medicine 2.0 is the use of Web 2.0 technologies in the area of medicine. Some examples can be seen in the Medical 2.0 Directory. I have come to think of Health 2.0 websites as being those that provide services geared towards the consumer, and Medicine 2.0 those geared towards services for the medical professional - although I am sure there will be those who will debate this with me. Regarding my own website, MedWorm, I decided that it was MedHealth 2.0, since it was providing a service equally for both consumer and professional alike.

The Future - Web 3.0 / Health 3.0 / Medicine 3.0

Of course many are now speculating ... (to be continued)

Just realised that the future - Health 3.0 - would make a better post of its own.


  1. Thanks for your post on Health 2.0....Brian Klepper and I have developed a broad vision for Health 2.0 at

    You can also see more on Health 2.0 at a new wiki whee many of us are contributing to the evolving concept...

    Finally, there is a Facebook group of folks interested in Health 2.0 that you can join.

    Let's keep the dialogue open and the discourse flowing about Health well, all...Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

  2. Hi Jane,
    Many thanks for your comments and links to the resources that you have recommended. I have been looking at your vision and
    I too am very excited about Health 2.0 / Medicine 2.0 and how I think it will revolutionise health and medicine developments in the coming years. However, I have to confess that my vision, I think, is somewhat different to the one you have mapped out (although I may be misunderstanding the diagram) and am a little reluctant to express my thoughts, as I really don't want to offend someone who has been kind enough to take the time and leave comments on my blog!

  3. Frank, as a fellow Paul Simon and Sting fan, you won't offend! I worked in the UK in the mid-80s so am familiar with health system differences and cultures between the US and the UK. In the UK, we are the land of health (and health information) fragmentation...thus, the Health 2.0 vision of Klepper/Kahn responds to that and looks to remedy and harmonize the sad state of our health information infrastructure. So, please, do comment. The more we learn from each other, the better...Jane

  4. Same taste in music hey? Well that's all I need to hear! OK - now we've made friends, I'll see what I can do to rock the boat ;) The point on the different starting points (UK/USA) I think is one that is very relevant. Will see you over at your blog!

    By the way, it's Frankie, not Frank (because I'm female).

  5. Fantastic article. You may be interested in my collection at

    I will include this article in the next edition of our Medicine 2.0 carnival. I hope you don't mind.

  6. Many thanks Berci for your kind comment - of course I would be delighted for my article to be covered in your next Medical 2.0 carnival. Great list you have there too - will be having a look in some more detail.

  7. Thanks for this post - I think the Health 2.0 advocates really have to sit down and agree on the terminology they use, as I see vast differences in how people interpret this term (which is one reason why I refrain from using "Health 2.0").
    While I am sympathetic to your reasoning about the differences between "Health 2.0" and "Medicine 2.0", I also disagree slightly, as the distinction between consumers and health professionals is not really useful if the ultimate goal is to bring these user groups together, and if the underlying tools are similar or identical.
    I prefer the term Medicine 2.0 (and - as can be seen in this Medicine 2.0 map - use it as an overarching term incorporating Health 2.0 i.e. consumer-centric applications), for many reasons which I described in my recent blog entry. Among them are 1) health is one (only one) of many (unproven) outcome of Web 2.0 applications in health/medicine 2) health is the outcome, medicine is the art & science to achieve health. It is semantically more correct to refer to Web 2.0 services which facilitate this "Medicine 2.0" application rather than Health 2.0 application, much as we call Web 2.0 business applications "Business 2.0" (after the field) and not "Wealth 2.0" (after the possible outcome).

    My Medicine 2.0 map lays out the scope of the forthcoming Medicine 2.0 congress (hope to see you there!).

    I'd be curious what you think about this.

    Source: Eysenbach, Gunther. Medicine 2.0 Congress Website launched (and: Definition of Medicine 2.0 / Health 2.0). Posted at: Gunther Eysenbach's random research rants (Blog). URL:">"> Accessed: 2008-03-07. (Archived by WebCite® at
    (Note: A more refined version of this blog entry will be published as editorial in JMIR - once published please cite as: Gunther Eysenbach. Medicine 2.0: Social Networking, Collaboration, Participation, Apomediation, and Openness. J Med Internet Res 2008 (in press) . DOI:10.2196/jmir.1030)

  8. Hi Gunther,

    Many thanks for your comment (I love it when someone disagrees with me!)

    I have to say, I agree with your sentiment, that consumer and professional should ideally be brought together with 2.0, and that defining Health 2.0 as consumer and Medicine 2.0 as professional does nothing to bring about this process, but rather enhances the divide.

    It would be convenient to have an 'overarching' terminology that would somehow merge these two sides (professional and consumer) together. However, I'm not sure, that Medicine 2.0 could be used as such a term, that would include all Health 2.0 sites, as you could also argue that health can be achieved through many different ways, not just through medicine (and of course medicine does not always bring about health). Rather I think that there is an overlap between the two (Health 2.0 and Medicine 2.0) - and for me this overlap is where the most exciting developments will take place as we move forward.

    Good luck with the conference - would love to attend, but the timing is not great for me, so I shall instead excuse my absence on environmental grounds - I really couldn't justify the carbon footprint when we have video conferencing to hand ;)


  9. Too bad - would have loved to see you in Toronto @ Medicine 2.0... It's shaping up to be a really interesting program.

  10. Me too, would have loved to meet you - maybe next time! I'm sure it will be a great event.

  11. Frankie, pls take a look at my new report published by the California HealthCare Foundation -- The Wisdom of Patients -- at:

    Please let me know what you think! Be well...Jane S-K