fergusonreport.com :#9, sept 2002
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Looking Ahead:
Online Health and the Search for Sustainable Healthcare

Previous generations assumed that we would always rely on nonrenewable fossil fuels to meet our energy needs. They regarded environmental pollution as an inevitable byproduct of economic development. And they assumed that we would always rely on medical professionals to supply all the health care we needed.

They were wrong on all counts. But while we are now actively protecting our environment and developing sustainable energy resources, we are just beginning to understand that our present healthcare system is also becoming unsustainable.
 [ ... more]

"Expert Driver" Interview:
Medical Knowledge as a Social Process: An Interview with John Lester

John Lester is director of information technology at the Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital and a research associate at Harvard Medical School. He has come up with a key Information Age insight I've come to think of as Lester's Law: "Medical knowledge is a social process: The conversations that occur around artifactual data are always more important than the data themselves."  [ ... more]

The New Pew Online Health Survey:
The Online Health Revolution Continues

Our second major Pew Internet & American Life Report on e-Patients, Vital Decisions: How Internet users decide what information to trust when they or their loved ones are sick and Search Engines: A Pew Internet Project Data Memo are now available. Key findings from these two reports are inside.  [ ... more]

Distinguished Achievement Awards:
California Healthcare Foundation, Eysenbach, Fox, Greene, Kreps, Rainie, Sands

In this issue, the Distinguished Achievement Award goes to the California Healthcare Foundation; researcher, editor, and publisher, Gunther Eysenbach; Susannah Fox, the Director of Research at the Pew Internet & American Life Project; pediatrician Alan Greene and his wife Cheryl Greene; the distinguished communications scholar and educator, Gary Kreps; Harrison "Lee" Rainie, the Director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project; and internist and online health specialist, Danny Sands.  [ ... more]

Necessary Reading:
Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability

Most Web design books explain how your site should look. Krug's focuses on how it should work. Don't Make Me Think is, among other things, a masterful crash course in the essential art of navigation design, providing insight after insight into what goes on on inside the heads of real average users as they attempt to navigate your site. And it is just as useful for the technologically challenged as it is for experienced Web designers.  [ ... more]

Key Concepts in Online Health:
e-Patients as Medical Researchers

The sexual effects of Viagra (sildenafil) were first discovered by patients. The British researchers who developed the drug were hoping that sildenafil would increase the cardiac blood supply in angina patients. It was not until a number of patients reported the dramatic side effect for which the drug is now well known that they realized that it might increase another kind of blood flow. Thanks to this patient-provided intelligence, Pfizer soon found itself with a spectacular new pharmaceutical bestseller.  [ ... more]

Found on the Net:
What e-Patients Do Online: A Tentative Taxonomy

There has been a good deal of discussion to date as to whether and how patients should use the Internet for health purposes. But we know surprisingly little about the kinds of things e-patients actually do when they go online.

Over the last few months, I've asked a number of colleagues about the various types of e-patient activities they're aware of. Based on these conversations, and on my own observations, it appears that e-patients are currently operating in ten domains.
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Beyond Search Engines:
Google Answers Does Health & Medicine

The online visionaries at Google.com have taken the quest for online answers to the next level: The researchers at their new service, Google Answers will answer your health and medical questions-or any other question-for a fee you choose yourself, starting at $2.50. And if you don't like their answer, you can get your money back.  [ ... more]

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Copyright © 1999-2003 Tom Ferguson, M.D. The Ferguson Report is a free e-mail newsletter published at unpredictable intervals for the friends and associates of Tom Ferguson. ISSN 1520-5487