eHealth and Cultural Competence.

By Gonzalo Bacigalupe

E-Health alters how healthcare clinicians, institutions, patients, caregivers, families, advocates, and researchers collaborate. Few guidelines exist to evaluate the impact of social technologies on furthering family health and even less on their capacity to ameliorate health disparities. Health social media tools that help develop, sustain, and strengthen the collaborative health agenda may prove useful to ameliorate healthcare inequities; the linkage should not, however, be taken for granted. In this article, we propose a classification of emerging social technologies in health care with the purpose of developing evaluative criteria that assess their ability to foster collaboration and positively impact healthcare equity. The findings are based on systematic Internet ethnographic observations, a qualitative analysis of e-health tool exemplars, and a review of the literature. To triangulate data collection and analysis, the research team consulted with social media healthcare experts in making recommendations for evaluation criteria. Selected cases illustrate the analytical conclusions. Lines of research that are needed to accurately rate and reliably measure the ability of social media e-health offerings to address health disparities are proposed. (Family, Systems, and Health, 2013 APA, all rights reserved)

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