Opportunities and challenges of Web 2.0 within the health care systems: an empirical exploration

Inform Health Soc Care. 2009 Sep;34(3):117-26. doi: 10.1080/17538150903102265.


The Internet has become one of the main drivers of e-health. Whilst its impact and potential is being analysed, the Web 2.0 phenomenon has reached the health field and has emerged as a buzzword that people use to describe a wide range of online activities and applications. The aims of this article are: to explore the opportunities and challenges of the Web 2.0 within the health care system and to identify the gap between the potential of these online activities and applications and the empirical data. The analysis is based on: online surveys to physicians, nurses, pharmacist and patient support groups; static web shot analysis of 1240 web pages and exploration of the most popular Web 2.0 initiatives. The empirical results contrast with the Web 2.0 trends identified. Whereas the main characteristic of the Web 2.0 is the opportunity for social interaction, the health care system at large could currently be characterised by: a lack of interactive communication technologies available on the Internet; a lack of professional production of health care information on the Internet, and a lack of interaction between these professionals and patients on the Internet. These results reveal a scenario away from 2.0 trends.

MeSH terms

  • Communication*
  • Consumer Health Information
  • Delivery of Health Care / methods*
  • Health Personnel*
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Patients*
  • Self-Help Groups
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires