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Two practical and useful social media guides for research and policy engagement

September 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Two practical and useful social media guides for research and policy engagement

Social media has a significant impact on how individuals communicate, interact and collaborate.  It should be an important component in any researcher’s toolkit, to engage stakeholders, gather and analyse data, and disseminate findings. However, most often it isn’t, because  it is still so new, and because there is yet much to be discovered, explored and understood regarding its capabilities, utilities, pitfalls, and practical uses as a tool and mechanism in conducting and disseminating research.   Social Media: A guide for researchers  produced by Alan Cann of the Department of Biology at the University of Leicester, and Konstantia Dimitriou and Tristram Hooley of the International Centre for Guidance Studies, offers a  useful  and practical guide to engaging a range of resources.

Impact 2.0 – New mechanisms for linking research and policy  was originally developed by Cheekay Cinco and Karel Novotney, at the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and is now managed and updated by Fundacion Comunica, with the financial support of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).  It seeks to develop a body of knowledge about the use of Web 2.0 in policy-oriented research and design.  Perhaps on account of the scale, scope and speed of change in new communication tools and technologies,  these  tools have not been extensively exploited in promoting and strengthening links between research, advocacy and policy. This guide can be helpful to researchers who wish to better understand how social networking tools can be used to identify the main policy actors,  issues, connected themes, and opportunities; how  these tools can be used to encourage discussion, debate and collaboration; and  how to leverage them in  engaging and maintaining relations with policy makers and other important stakeholders.

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Google Health PHR is being retired after all

June 27, 2011 6 comments

An official Google Blog post on 24 June announced that  Google Health will be retired in January 2012 as it has not resulted in the broad impact anticipated at its launch three years ago.  Patients will be able to download their data through January 1, 2013. Google Health’s no-cost, secure, online, open source, patient health record made available to health consumers, was expected to improve health care by enabling patients to be partners in the management of their health.

Most health records worldwide are still paper-based, and those in electronic format may be scattered among hospitals, doctor offices and specialists. Technology standards and data ownership issues are yet not clearly defined, so populating personal health record with data can be an onerous task.  Adoption of personal health records involves a fairly steep learning curve and a change in cultural mindset.   Finally, the cost of housing data and creating applications to make the data useable and secure is high.  Though disappointing, it is perhaps not surprising, therefore, that Google has pulled out of the personal health record space.

In Canada, Telus Health Space has moved into personal health record provision, building on the Microsoft Health Vault platform,  partnering with hospitals, health care associations, and academic research initiatives to standardize technologies and encourage development of applications to make PHRs more useful and user-friendly.  Telus Health Space is not free, however; it  is only available to users for a fee, which might make it a more sustainable business model.

Social Networking, Social Neuroscience, Aging

A June 2, 2009 article, Online, A Reason To Keep On Going, in the New York Times reported that among older people who went online last year, the number visiting social networks like Facebook and MySpace grew almost twice as fast as the overall rate of Internet use among that group, according to the media measurement company comScore.
Researchers who focus on aging are now studying whether the networks can provide some of the benefits of a group of friends, while being much easier to assemble and maintain. About one-third of people 75 and older live alone. Per the article, in response to the growing number of older Americans, the National Institute on Aging is awarding at least $10 million in grants for researchers who examine social neuroscience and its effect on aging.