Stay tuned in Linkedin

May 5, 2016

News and updates about our working group will take place in Linkedin where our group has reached more than 100 followers.

(Medinfo Panel) Is social media a good tool for disease surveillance?

April 8, 2013

Panel: New Trends in Health Social Media: Hype or Evidence-based medicine?

Panelist: Kerstin Denecke,

Threats to the health of individuals are of concern for all of us. When something happens around us, we are communicating this to our friends, colleagues or to the world often through the Web in blogs, twitter messages or forum postings. “I feel so sick” or “I have a high temperature, pain everywhere” – these are messages that can be found on Twitter. But to what extent are those messages referring to real disease outbreaks? In the last years, the idea came up of making use of this chatter for the early detection of disease outbreaks. Methods were developed that exploit content from informal sources, applying sophisticated event-detection techniques to identify potential threats and providing signals to the user in a personalized way [1]. 

However, many challenges still need to be addressed. The language used in social media, in particular in microblogging services such as Twitter is extremely difficult to analyze automatically due to the high variability of language constructions and the immense volume of irrelevant postings [2]. “Football fever” or “(Justin) Bieber fever” are not of interest for public health officials, but these or similar word constructs are coming up from time to time. Sophisticated filtering algorithms were developed, but their applicability and efficacy still need to be evaluated.

There are still open questions:

  • Does social media really provide us with the information necessary for early warning of disease outbreaks? 
  • To what extent is the information reliable we can get from social media?
  • Privacy versus the need to act?


[1] Kerstin Denecke , Peter Dolog , Pavel Smrz: Making use of social media data in public health. Alain Mille et al. (Eds.): Proceedings of the 21st World Wide Web Confer-ence, WWW 2012, Lyon, France, April 16-20, 2012, pp. 243-246

[2] Mustafa  Sofean , Avaré Stewart , Matthew Smith , Kerstin Denecke: Medical Case-Driven Classification of Microblogs: Characteristics and Annotation. ACM SIGHIT International Health Informatics Symposium (IHI 2012)


(Medinfo Panel) New Trends in Health Social Media: Hype or Evidence-based medicine?

April 8, 2013

Dear all,

We recently got accepted a panel proposal for MedInfo (the largest global medical informatics conference organised by IMIA). In this panel we will adress the need for more evidence in the area of health social media, as you can see in the abstract bellow:

“The use of social media in the health domain is growing continuously in the terms of use and also complexity. This panel will provide and overview of the current situation and the challenges ahead. The presenters will provide an engaging discussion rooted in the evidence of the emerging field of Health Social Media. Among other topics the following aspects will be addressed: gamification, personalized medicine, patient safety and other topics that will be discussed in the panel.”

Our panelist are an heterogenous researchers from our working group:

  • Luis Fernandez-Luque, MS (Norut, Tromsø, Norway). Luis Fernandez-Luque is an eHealth expert and Secretary of the IMIA Social Media Working Group. He will organize the panel and lead the discussion about social games.
  • Annie Lau, PhD (Centre for Health Informatics, Australian Institute of Health Innovation, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia) will lead the discussion about the risks of social media for consumers.
  • Carol S Bond, Dr (Bournemouth University, Bournemouth, United Kingdom). She has a background as in nursing informatics and participatory health. She is currently the Academic Head of Practice Simulation in the School of Health and Social Care at Bournemouth University. She will present the role of ePatients in evidence-based medicine.
  • Kerstin Denecke, PhD (University Medical Center of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany) will introduce disease surveillance using social media. Read the blog post about her topic.
  • Fernando José Martín-Sanchez, Professor (Health and Biomedical Informatics Research Unit. The University of Melbourne, Australia) will discuss the role of social media in personalized health.

In order to allow interaction with the health social media community we will post a serie of blogs entries about the different topics addressed in our panel.

What do you think? Is Social media Hype or Evidence-based Medicine?  Where do you think the research is going?  What are your thoughts?


Luis Fernandez-Luque

IMIA Social Media – Secretary

IMIA Medicine 2.0 Awards

September 23, 2011

Congratulations to the recipients of the IMIA Best Research Paper award and the Stanford University / IMIA SMWG best poster award. And the winners were…

IMIA Best Research Paper Award: Jackie Bender @benderjack – for her paper: What Is the Role of Online Support for the Supporters? a Multi-Method Study Examining the Use of Online Communities among Breast Cancer Peer Support Providers

Stanford University/IMIA SMWG Best Poster Award: Osman Ahmed @osmanhahmed – for his poster: iCon: Utilizing Facebook to Deliver Best-Practice Concussion Management

Towards a Research Agenda for Social Media in Healthcare and Academia

September 11, 2011

Our workshop in MIE 2011 Oslo was a very interesting one, mainly by the value added by around 30 attendees. They were coming from clinical practice, research, students, etc. We have also people coming from many different countries, showing social media is a global phenomena. Among others I can recall people participating from New Zeeland, UK, USA, Japan, Germany, Norway, Switzerland, Greece, Finland, Zimbabwe, etc.

Peter Murray (@peterjmurray) made the introduction of the workshop and provided a very nice overview of all the activities of our working group. He also was very active taking notes of all the comments from the audience. Most of this blog post is based on his notes.

Chris Paton (@DrChrisPaton) introduced his experience on using social media to improve interaction with students. He explained the role of social computing applications and not just Web 2.0. For example, Wikipedia can be a great example of social computing application where there are already more than 3.5 million articles created by millions of volunteers. Another aspect addressed by Chris Paton was usability. User friendly website have higher chances to success. However, there are cases where websites with poor usability can be a huge success (e.g, Criaglist). However, the complexity of social media makes nearly impossible to predict what will be successful.

Chris also mentioned that social media is more than content. Content is social media platforms increase its value by the amount of users. The value goes up as more users come on board and create more value.

In the healthcare domain an interesting development is the combination of Web 2.0 and data collection. He explained the case of PatientsLikeMe where users are not just sharing information in traditional forum but also structured data, also within patient-led experiments. Another example was the application TuAnalyze run in collaboration between the online community TuDiabetes and the Harvard Medical School.

Margaret (@m2hansen) is a leader in the use of social media for nursing education and she enligthed the audience with many of her experiences using these new technologies to enhance the education of professionals and more recently also with patients. Already in 2005, they introduced satisfactory blogging as a vehicle for the education of clinical and nursing students. They have been also using wiki technology in education. She showed some examples of how they have used WikiEducator to setup courses.

More recently she has been exploring the use of mHealth for education. For example, her students have been testing the use of iPod and videos for learning nursing techniques. The results of these experiences are quite positive and support the idea that those technologies can enhance education. She also showed how medical apps in the iPad could be used for medical education.

Peter L. Ekin was not able to travel to Oslo. However, his topic human factors and health social media was also addressed in the workshop.

Luis Luque (@luisluque): I focused in the use of video sharing platforms (such as YouTube) in the health domain. First of all, I explained that videos are becoming extremely important in the new Web 2.0. In fact, YouTube is the 3rd most visit website in nearly all the world. Most of those videos are shared in social networks among friends and relatives.

I showed many examples of videos for health promotion (e.g, The Big Blue Test, and channels created by health authorities (e.g, NHSCoices). Since not everything is good in YouTube I also showed examples of videos promoting un-healthy lifestyles (pro-anorexia videos) and I explained how difficult is to find good videos in YouTube without finding disturbing content (e.g, amputations).

General Discussion

Many interesting aspects rose during the discussion, such as:

  •  When is a problem a societal issues and not just an Internet Issue? For example, some non-healthcare professionals like to watch anatomical demos both offline and online.
  • Open access within academic publications is putting the burden of cost on the authors, closing the door to many good researchers from developing countries.
  • Despite the possibilities of Social Media we use sparingly these tools to upgrade the quality of research articles. Could we improve the situation using tools such as Wikipedia?
  • What is success in social media? Can be low quality more popular than high quality? Should we take into account traditional quality or just hits?

There were many other topics discussed in the workshop that are not addressed in this blog post.

MIE 2011 – Social Media

August 7, 2011

Medical Informatics Europe is the biggest conference in Europe about Medical Informatics and this year has more than 200 presentations and around 30 panels and workshops. Many of those are related to health social media but they are not in a common track, so I have created a lists with the sessions related to our WG.

NOTE: the timing is based on the sessions and not the listed presentations. I also based my selection only on the titles since I don’t have access to the abstracts.


IMPORTANT NOTE: Check the printed program, the preliminary program contained errors.


MONDAY 29th August

TUESDAY 30th August

WEDNESDAY 31th August

  • 9:45 (N2 Eisvold): A cloud-based semantic wiki for user training in healthcare process management

Health Social Media Workshop @ MIE 2011 (Medical Informatics Europe)

July 22, 2011

Medical Informatics Europe will take place in only one month in Oslo (Norway). MIE is the biggest conference about Medical Informatics in Europe and it is the official conference of the European Federation of Medical Informatics. This year a nice representation of our working group will be attending, there we have a working group meeting and a workshop (more information to come):

29th August, Monday at 17:00 (room Finmark): we will have the meeting of the working group.

30th August, Tuesday at 9:45 (in room Bergen): “Workshop: Towards a Research Agenda for Social Media in Healthcare and Academia” with the participation of Peter J. Murray, Chris Paton, Margaret Hansen, Peter L. Elkin and Luis Fernandez-Luque.

IMIA Social Media WG at Medicine 2.0 – NL

November 28, 2010

Tomorrow morning, bright and early, at 0800h during the Medicine 2.0 Congress in Maastricht, NL, the International Medical Informatics Association Social Media Working Group (IMIA SMWG) will be hosting its inaugural meeting in the Rome chamber of the Maastricht Exhibition and Congress Centre.

Some of the confirmed attendees (no particular order) include: @peterjmurray (CEO, IMIA), @eysenbach (Founder, Medicine 2.0 Conference), @berci (Founder of Webicina), @migcabrera (Founder Medting), @leika_bcn (Director, Forumclinic), @mcabrer (Founder, Medting), & @clarabermudez (Researcher, Andalusian
School of Public Health

During this official breakfast, Dr. Peter Murray will be giving a short intro on the group. This will be followed by individual introductions, coordinated by the Vice-chair (@ciscogiii) and secretary (@luisluque). Finally, we hope to begin planning on how the group can collaborate on new and existing research projects.

More on the IMIA SMWG can be found below.

We look forward to seeing you there,

Francisco Grajales (@ciscogiii) Vice-Chair, IMIA SMWG

Luis Luque (@luisluque) Secretary, IMIA SMWG

The Social Media Working Group (SMWG) aims to be IMIA’s vehicle for stakeholder engagement in Social Media. Its membership will be international, inclusive, and multidisciplinary.

The IMIA SMWG will engage members from the international health informatics community, across sectors, to identify, explore, collaborate, and disseminate research on the use of social media for health. Of particular interest are the drivers of change, barriers, facilitators, and policies necessary for the application of the various social media categories in the health domain.

These categories include:

  1. Social Networks (e.g., Facebook)
  2. Professional Networks (e.g., LinkedIn)
  3. Thematic Networks (e.g., PatientsLikeMe, TuDiabetes)
  4. Microblogs
  5. Blogs
  6. Wikis
  7. Forums/Listserv’s
  8. Social Photo and Video Sharing Tools
  9. Collaborative Filtering Tools (e.g., RSS, recommender systems, tagging)
  10. Multi-User Virtual Environments (e.g., Second Life)
  11. Social applications and games
  12. Integration of Social Media with Health Information Technologies (e.g. EHRs, PACS, SNOMED)
  13. Other (e.g., FriendFeed)

The sectors that will be engaged and invited to participate in this group, include (but are not limited to):

  1. IMIA Member Organizations
  2. Academic Bodies
  3. Industry
  4. Governmental research institutions (e.g, US CDC)
  5. Intergovernmental Organizations (e.g., WHO, PAHO, ITU, WMA).

The applications of social media will be explored with particular applications to:

  1. Health care delivery
  2. Health care professional education
  3. Public health
  4. Clinical and disaster medicine
  5. Research

First Meeting

October 4, 2010

The Social Media WG has started!

We celebrated the creation of our new Working Group with a meeting in Second Life. Finally, we attended five members from different disciplines and countries (Spain, Norway, Canada, USA and New Zealand). We discussed future steps ahead, such as collaboration in projects, publications and events. To know more about the discussion take a look into the minutes which have been published in our mailing list

The next meeting will take place at the end of November during Medicine 2.0 NL.

Luis Fernandez-Luque
Secretary, IMIA Social Media Working Group

Welcome to the new website for the IMIA Social Media WG

September 16, 2010

This is the new website for the IMIA (International Medical Informatics Association) Social Media Working Group.

Please check back here for regular updates about our meetings and activities.

Chris Paton

Chair, IMIA Social Media Working Group