Digital Divide and Social Inclusion (V): Knowledge management and ICT in Health

Notes from the first II Conferencia Internacional Brecha Digital e Inclusión Social (II International Conference on the Digital Divide and Social Inclusion held at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid will be hosting at their campus in Leganés (Spain) on October 28th to 30th, 2009.

Parallel session: Trends and advances before the digital divide: assessment systems and good practices
Moderator: Concepción Colomer Revuelta, Subdirector at the Oficina de Planificación Sanitaria and Director del Observatorio de Salud de la Mujer del Ministerio de Sanidad y Política Social

Digital and informational divides in a context of digital, cultural, cognitive and generational convergence
Marcelo D’Agostino, Consultant in Knowledge Management, Organización Panamericana de la Salud

Marcelo D’Agostino believes that the digital digital will shrink, necessarily, as the Internet won’t make steps backwards [he seems to forget that the digital divide is actually widening, especially if we take into account the quality of access, namely, broadband access, and what you can or cannot do with that different quality of access].

Advise to bridge the digital divide:

  • Don’t be intimidated by technical jargon
  • Don’t be afraid of technology
  • Nobody is an expert in everything
  • Trust first your capacity and then apply technologies
  • Be careful where you look for information

Benefits of ICTs for Public Health: a better link between patients and professionals; better and life-long training.

Open access to health and medical information: a challenge before the digital divide
Helena Martín Rodero, Head of the Sección Bibliotecas Biosanitarias de la Universidad de Salamanca

Raghavendra Gadagkar: open-access more harm than good in developing world (published in Nature, comment by Peter Suber) stating the rich world patronising the poor world, in the sense that rich ones might be more interested in poor ones reading rather than publishing.

We are witnessing a crisis in the system of scientific diffusion, that has lead to the creation of the Open Access movement and several international declarations to foster scientific publishing in open access journals (gold access) or scientific self-archiving in open access repositories (green access).

Open access is compatible with peer-review, professional quality, prestige, preservation, intellectual property, profit, priced add-ons and print (originally in Open access to the scientific journal literature, by Peter Suber.

Access to knowledge will necessarily help to bridge the digital divide, and open access publications and repositories is a way to enable a better access to knowledge.

Web 2.0 and Medicine
Dídac Margaix Arnal, Librarian at the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia

New generations (digital natives) have been born with new technologies and these are no strange to them. Have different skills towards technology and information, which they manage in different ways.

We might be in an age similar to the Renaissance, where technology feeds cultural and social change, and culture and society feed technological change.

Three kinds of Web 2.0 sites

  • The web as the platform: use the web instead of the desktop (e.g. Zoho)
  • Remix the web: use the web to mix different content (e.g. Google Maps)
  • The social web: it is users what counts, not visits. Users add value to the site (e.g. YouTube)

Medicine 2.0: use of a set of web tools by health professionals applying the principles of open source, open access, etc. It is different from e-Medicine, that is applying ICTs in health issues. There has been an inflexion point that has put humans into technology, from just ICTs to the dimension of community. It is a matter not of technology but of participation.

Some factors:

  • “Suppormediation”: support and mediation by non-professionals (in Spanish: Apomediación)
  • Collaboration
  • Transparency

There increasingly are websites that provide health information on the Internet. We should prescribe more information than pills (or, at least, as much information as pills).

Summing up: new agents, new tools, collaboration, personalization, training.

Internet and Health
David Novillo Ortiz, Agencia de Calidad del Sistema Nacional de Salud. Ministerio de Sanidad y Política social

Related to health, increasingly people get their information from the Internet and less from TV, and more from blogs. In general, e-mail, search engines and social networking sites have entered with strength into the information landscape.

Search for health information in the Internet has gone from 19% in 2003 to 54% in 2008 (Spain, % of total Internet users). There is a gender gap where women score 10 points higher than men, probably due to their role as the person at home that cares for the family members.

In April 2007, the same search terms in 4 different search engines produced only 0.6% of overlap (only 0.6% of all results were the same in the 4 search engines). We should be careful about that, as the information that search engines produce is, by any means, the same one ever.

Indeed, we trust more the people we know that the ones we don’t, that’s why Google Social Search might be adding a lot of value as it will bring personal context to people’s searches.

On the other hand, we can access certified/verified health websites whose information is backed by the reputation of the institutions that publish those websites. E.g., a metasearch engine that crawls the best health websites in Spanish.

More information


II International Conference on the Digital Divide and Social Inclusion (2009)

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2009) “Digital Divide and Social Inclusion (V): Knowledge management and ICT in Health” In ICTlogy, #73, October 2009. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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