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Understanding User Online Search Behaviour and Social Networking: the potential for ehealth

Date & Time:
15:30:00 - 16:30:00,
Tuesday 12 March, 2013


The amount of medical information available online and the increasing popularity of Web 2.0 and social networking tools, such as Face Book and Twitter, has changed the way information are used by health care professionals and in particular by general public. However, understanding user online search behaviour, information needs and medical concerns available in weblogs and social media streams is essential for improving the delivery of care.

This talk will address the issues surrounding the Internet delivery of medical knowledge to public and professionals, the need for a personalisation and user engagement. Understanding public and professionalsí information needs from large datasets in search weblogs drives improvements of dedicated medical sites and provides evidence for policies and healthcare priorities. Social networking with increasing amount of user-generated content provides highly accessible source of real-time epidemic intelligence information for early warning systems and can allow better understanding of public concerns about their health.

Utilizing unique user behaviour datasets, we will draw from the experience with the development and evaluation of the National electronic library of Infection (NeLI) and international projects hosted by this infection portal accessed by over 400 000 users per month, project hosting educational games teaching children basics of hygiene, and a recent study using Twitter as an outbreak detection tool and effective risk communication channel during swine flu 2009.

The hashtag for tweeting about this event is: #oiiehealth

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  • Name: Patty Kostkova
  • Affiliation: University College London and ISI Foundation Italy
  • Role:
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  • Bio: Dr. Patty Kostkova is currently working on the ehealth strategy at University College London (UCL) and holds a Research Scientist post at the ISI Foundation in Italy. Patty is also a Special Lecturer at the School or Arts and Social Sciences, City University, London delivering an interdisciplinary module on Social Media for postgraduate social science and informatics students. Until 2012, she was Reader and the Head of City eHealth Research Centre (CeRC) at City University, London, UK. With an MSc and PhD degrees in computer science and an extensive international experience at public health agencies such as WHO and ECDC, Patty built up CeRC into a thriving multidisciplinary research centre collaborating with international partners and funding bodies including ECDC, WHO, HPA, EC and the DH. CeRC piloted a novel model enabling direct technology transfer of a user-driven high impact research through a family of real-world online services for medical professionals including the National Resource for Infection Control (NRIC), ECDC training resource FEM Wiki and educational games for children edugames4all. In the recent years, she was appointed a consultant at WHO, ECDC and Foundation Merieux. In addition to Patty’s Advisory Board memberships, including ECDC Knowledge Management Working Group and the NHS National Knowledge Service TB Pilot project, she established and chaired an interdisciplinary international eHealth conference in 2009-11. In March 2011, she was invited by BMJ as the “Idea Champion” to present her latest work on the potential of social media for epidemic intelligence receiving a wide media coverage including a BMJ scientific film: Medical Innovations: Twitter Epidemics. Patty has published over 90 peer-reviewed papers, a book chapter and edited a number of journals including the “ICST Transactions on ehealth”. Her research was covered by international media including the Medi1TV, BBC, AFP, the Vancouver Sun, the Malaysian Insider and other.