#unitedforehealth: knowledge and health empowerment through short videos

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eHealth Center

Each week, different social and healthcare professionals will explain the keys to digital health and literacy so that we can move toward a more empowered society.

The digital world is becoming increasingly integrated within the health field. Today, we can view our blood test results online, monitor sugar levels through an app, get increasingly accurate diagnoses using artificial intelligence, or consult medical information on online platforms.

Endorsed by the scientific community, these tools have helped to increase citizen empowerment. With these tools, ordinary people can gain access to information and resources that will help them take part in decision-making processes about their own health, both from their homes and at medical centres.

However, not all the initiatives are based on scientific evidence, a necessary condition if they are to be truly usable. And neither do they all meet the scientific standards demanded by the expert community. So it is not surprising that people have doubts about using these tools. In fact, ever more frequently we are hearing questions such as: How can I find reliable health information on the internet? What e-health initiatives are being currently implemented? What knowledge can we gain to become active stakeholders in our own health, in spite of not being a social or healthcare practitioner? How can medical professionals contribute to empowering their patients?  

Increasing public awareness

To answer these and other questions, the UOC eHealth Center is launching a series of short weekly videos as part of the #unitedforehealth project, reviewing different e-health initiatives that are currently being developed in Spain.

Starting on 22 January, every Wednesday, experts from different institutions, research centres and hospitals will explain what e-health consists of and what their organization is doing to implement it and make it available to society. The aim of these videos is to increase public awareness of e-health and citizen empowerment-related initiatives, dividing them into two blocs: "Ideas" (#IdeasU4eH), with more theoretical concepts and explanations; and "Good practices" (#ApplicationsU4eH), which will basically focus on explaining success stories. 

Thus, the videos will feature projects in Spain that seek to put tools in people's hands and engage them actively in their health. However, in spite of these endeavours, there is still a long way to go. According to the "Informe sobre Transformacin Digital en Salud en Espaa: compromisos vs. realidades" (Report on Digital Transformation in Health in Spain: commitments vs realities), published by the Digital Health Association (ASD) in 2018, the digitization process "has still not been implemented in the health field to the degree that would be desirable and possible".

As the ASD explained, since approval in 2005 of the Plan Avanza, intended to disseminate correct use of ICTs in public institutions through the Sanidad en Lnea (Health Online) programme, achievements have been made but more needs to be done. The pace of technology implementation in the health world is very slow.

Pioneering projects in Spain

To help palliate the system's structural deficiencies, projects have been started around Spain that have become examples of good practices. One of the earliest projects, started in 2006, was the Expert Patient Programme Catalonia. Paloma Amil, the project's manager, will explain the keys to its success, in which so far more than 5,500 people have taken part.

In 2008, the Andalusian School of Public Health (EASP) decided that the Escuela de Pacientes (Patient School) needed to move into the virtual world. Joan Carles March, the organization's co-director and an EASP professor, will explain the reasons why.

From Galicia, Josefina Monteagudo, Deputy Director-General for Citizen Services and Quality and Director of the Galician Health Service's Citizen Health School, will explain the role played by the school in improving communication between social and health professionals and their patients.

Apps come of age

The app explosion has also reached the health world and we can now choose from a seemingly endless list of options. Manuel Escobar, co-creator of Esporti Family, will reveal how they manage to keep people using the app, whose aim is to combat child obesity.

Reflecting the social and health system's traditional focus on helping and supporting its users, in 2013, the Andalusian Government's Ministry of Health launched the app for its pre-existing Salud Responde (Health Replies) service. David Mateos, the service's technical coordinator, will explain how they get adults to venture into the digital world.

To contribute to driving change and innovation within the health world, the UOC has created its "Conversations for Health" series. Eullia Hernndez, coordinator of the UOC eHealth Center's Education, Empowerment and Participation in Health area, will tell us how the idea for this series of talks, which specifically targets practitioners, came about.

The #unitedforehealth series of videos aims to offer quality, concise content that is aligned with today's digital consumption habits. None of the videos lasts for more than two and a half minutes  and a new one will be released each week.