Greetings from MaRS

TORONTO—I’m here at the Medicine 2.0 Congress, a very international meeting put on by Dr. Gunther Eysenbach of the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation, a project of the University Health Network and the University of Toronto.

The meeting is in a place called the MaRS Centre, in the heart of what’s being called the Discovery District. It’s at the corner of College and University, right around the corner from several major hospitals, including Toronto General, Princess Margaret Hospital and Mount Sinai Hospital.

According to the Web site: “MaRS is not an acronym. It was originally a file name and the words “Medical and Related Sciences” were later attributed to it. Since we promote the convergence of a full range of science and technology disciplines, we’ve dropped ‘Medical and Related Sciences’ from our name and we’re back to just ‘MaRS.'”

So here we are in the fourth paragraph and I haven’t said a word about the conference itself. You’re going to have to wait a bit longer. I’m humbled to say that I am going to be cross-posting this week with the world-renowned Health Care Blog. It just so happens that at least two other contributors to that site are here: John Sharp and Jen McCabe Gorman—and the latter also blogs in Dutch. Rod Ward made the trip from the UK and is posting to his Informaticopia blog, Maarten den Braber from Amsterdam is Twittering and Denise Silber, who flew in from Paris, also has a blog—en français.

The conference even has its own blog: So I shall try to come up with something original.

OK, paragraph six and we’re finally getting down to business. Eysenbach opened the proceedings this morning with a discussion about what health 2.0 and medicine 2.0 really mean. I’ll just link to an article that appeared in Eysenbach’s Journal of Medical Internet Research earlier this year.

Don’t believe the hype? Peter Murray, the International Medical Informatics Association‘s VP for strategic planning, just put up a slide of this graphic:

Moving along, Eysenbach suggested that Google Health and HealthVault are not personal health records but “personal health applications” or platforms. That should make the marketing folks in Mountain View and Redmond very happy, since they keep denying that they offer PHRs.

Speaking of which, even though PHRs haven’t exactly captured the public’s imagination, Eysenbach said we are moving into the realm of PHR 2.0, where people should be able to disclose information within their own PHR to others to form communities around commonalities. A prime example, he said, is Patients Like Me.

Anyway, there are 180 participants from 19 countries here, with a slant toward the academic side of medical informatics. In fact, there are proceedings of this conference that are freely available. There are some 67 poster presentations for me to peruse at some point.

More to come. If anything, I will lead in links per post.