A deep-vein thrombosis diagnosis project is part of the new generation of high-quality medical information, say Shak Gohir and Eve Knight
Following diagnosis, a first reaction of patients is often to avidly research their condition, explore ways of alleviating symptoms, get insight from other people and share their experiences with others in the same situation. The internet provides the perfect platform to do this.
However, the internet has been seen by some as a potential hindrance, with issues of patient self-diagnosis and worry about symptoms that they believe more serious than is often the case.
But more structured forums for the transfer of knowledge are becoming increasingly useful ways for patients to find information and support after diagnosis.
Online discussion forums provide an excellent arena where patients and clinicians can help one another better understand conditions and share knowledge, advice and support.
A project investigating DVT diagnosis is a good example of how new media can help understand, address, and treat medical conditions. Funded by the European Commission, the Diagnosing DVT project is managed Cenamps, the centre for emerging technologies, in conjunction with nine European research institutions and high-tech companies. It aims to produce the world's first hand-held diagnostic device for DVT.
New media, such as blogs and discussion forums, have proved invaluable to informing and opening up dialogue with the full range of stakeholders, right across Europe.
As well as a blog, keeping interested parties up to date with the project, the consortium launched a message board, hosted by charity AntiCoagulation Europe, to provide an internet forum for people to discuss anti-coagulation therapy. The anonymous online environment gives patients a resource at home to share experiences and knowledge, and the forum is also a valuable way of helping clinicians, and researchers to better understand patients' issues, experiences and feelings.
Online forums therefore have the potential to help inform and improve new medical products and services.
We are some way off diagnosis by webcam. But applied correctly, new media can be valuable tools.
Shak Gohir is business and programme manager at Cenamps and Eve Knight is executive director of AntiCoagulation Europe.