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Consumer Informatics:
Applications and Strategies in Cyber Health Care

About this book
HON is pleased to announce that Consumer Informatics: Applications and Strategies for Cyber Health Care, co-edited by HON board member Marion Ball, and Rosemary Nelson, has been named 2004 Book of the Year Award winner by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society HiMSS website. The HIMSS Book of the Year Award honors a book that offers "outstanding practical guidance and/or strategic insight for healthcare information and management system professionals". The Award will be presented during the HIMSS Annual Conference (13-17 February in Dallas).

The choice of Consumer Informatics: Applications and Strategies for Cyber Health Care as HIMSS Book of the Year reflects the shift in ownership of health information away from a professional monopoly, toward a shared model. Patients and physicians now collaborate in a two-way exchange, with benefits not only for the economy, but for the individual and for the society as a whole.

This book explores the evolving fields of consumer health informatics and telemedicine with reports on the electronic medical record, patient safety, and quality care. Each chapter describes the role of computers, technology, and telecommunications as enablers within a specific application focused on the needs of consumers. The applications covered are ones which empower consumers as they seek information, analyse their health care needs, and make decisions about their own health care. Such applications empower professionals in their efforts to serve patients, while increasing the knowledge of the consumer.

Health On the Net Board members have left their stamp throughout the volume. In her preface, Marion Ball outlines the history of consumer health informatics and its promise of empowered health consumers. Charles Safran’s introduction entitled, “Care at a Distance”, then sets out the case for patient-centered ICTs in a healthcare environment where time is at a premium. In the opening chapter, “Collaborative Healthware”, Dr. Safran goes on to describe one such system, linking parents with their hospitalised preterm infants. When patients can provide input and receive instructions from their healthcare providers, and research their condition or that of a loved one guided by their physician, they are empowered to be more effective participants in their own care. Dr. Safran writes,

"Clinicians need to embrace virtual patient visits as a way to revitalize our deteriorating relationship with our patients. We need to design technology around the kind of care we seek to provide rather than responding piece-meal to administrative burdens. While adding more sophisticated technology to broken social systems almost never solves the human problem, sometimes high tech and also produce high touch. This book shows us how."

In Chapter 7, "Steps Toward Reliable Online Consumer Health Information", Ron D. Appel and Celia Boyer describe the evolution of health information from traditional knowledge and the origins of science to today's Internet. The general public now enjoys unprecedented access to health sources representing divergent interests, but steps need to be taken to protect consumers from potentially harmful information. An ethical code of conduct based on disclosure, the HONcode and other consumer-oriented tools developed by HON are presented to a wide audience in Consumer Informatics.

"Patient Empowerment, Cybermedicine and Citizen Education", authored by Patrice Degoulet et al, discusses the impact of new enabling technologies on patient and physician. Due to issues of equity, cybermedicine alone will not bring about patient empowerment. Transfer of responsibility from health professional to the patient does not mean reduced liability for the physician. To fully benefit from the potential of cybermedicine will require cultural and educational changes on the part of both groups.

Consumer Informatics: Applications and Strategies for Cyber Health Care also includes chapters on: Patient-Centered Communication; Disease Management and Home Telehealth; and Biothreats and Disaster Management.

The book's audience includes healthcare professionals, healthcare administrators, IT professionals, health informaticians and students.

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