Online Health Communities

Thursday, June 15, 2006 - 7:00pm
Lisa Neal

Online health communities provide a means for patients and their families to learn about an illness, seek and offer support, and connect with others in similar circumstances. They are supported by a variety of technologies and are hosted by patients, advocacy groups, medical organizations, and corporations. Online health communities raise difficult design challenges because of the wide variability of members' expertise and needs. The importance of online health communities is evidenced by the impact they have on the quality of life and health literacy of their members and by their popularity, which is likely to increase due to changes in the health care system coupled with increased infiltration and use of the Internet. This talk will explore current trends in online health communities and the significant issues in designing and evaluating systems that help members interact with other participants and medical experts in meaningful ways.

Lecturer Biography: 

Lisa Neal is an Adjunct Assistant Clinical Professor of Public Health and Family Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine, where she teaches about new technologies for health communication. She is Editor-in-Chief of eLearn Magazine and a consultant who specializes in the creative use of collaborative technologies for learning. Lisa holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Harvard University. Lisa's web site is at .