by: Perry W. Payne, Jr., MD/JD/MPP

In preparation for the upcoming Medicine 2.0 Congress on September 15th and 16th of this year and the newly created iMedicalApps Medicine 2.0 mHealth Research Award, the iMedicalApps team recently interviewed the initiator, organizer, and chair of the annual Medicine 2.0 conference, Gunther Eysenbach, MD.

He is also the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

See our interview below.

Submissions for the iMedicalApps & Medicine 2.0 mHealth Research Award are being accepted until March 7. Details are here

How would you describe the Medicine 2.0 conference to someone who has never attended, but who is curious about the evolving field of e-health and mHealth?

Gunther Eysenbach: Medicine 2.0, also known as the annual World Congress on Social Media, Mobile Apps, and Internet/Web 2.0 in Medicine, Health, and Biomedical Research, is a conference which brings together academics, clinicians and innovators in the field of social media, mhealth, and Web-based interventions.

Why is the conference called Medicine 2.0?

Gunther Eysenbach:
We call it Medicine 2.0 because most presentations will be about Web 2.0 or social media technologies in health and research, but also to allude to the fact that it incorporates and deals with general Web 2.0 ideas and approaches such as collaboration, (patient) participation, openness, social networking, and apomediation (i.e. crowdsourcing and collaborative filtering approaches).

We also call it Medicine 2.0 because the conference deals with “next generation medicine”, replacing the predominant and outdated Medicine 1.0 model, which doesn’t tap into consumer knowledge, often lacks transparency, uses proprietary approaches, cultivates a data silo mentality, and doesn’t use technology to its full potential. I think these are the major underlying problems ailing the health care systems of all industrialized countries, and this international conference will shed some light on the evidence.

We also try to walk the talk and use these “Web 2.0” values when putting together the conference. It is “open” for anyone to submit a speaker/panel proposal. We use open access licenses when publishing our content.  We try to involve patients in the conference, and use social networking tools before, during, and after the conference to facilitate ongoing collaboration between the participants.

What is the goal of Medicine 2.0 this year?

Gunther Eysenbach: This year we have – for the first time – the phrase “Mobile Apps” in the title of the conference, so I am very excited to see the fields of Internet-based behavior change technologies, social media, and mobile apps coming together.

How is this event different from the growing number of mHealth conferences that are occurring during the year – in particular the mHealth Summit?

Gunther Eysenbach: Medicine 2.0 was the first and remains the only conference with an academic focus – it is not a trade conference, like the majority of other events in this space. We select our speakers not primarily because they have key positions at companies or because they have given flashy TED talks (you can watch them from home), but because they present novel data, unique experiences in this field, offer novel methodologies, and other reasons that are focused on their intellectual contributions to the field.

We have 3 tracks for the conference: research, practice, and business.  We want to bring together the thought-leaders from these three worlds, who often go to different types of conferences. It is also a much more intimate setting (200-400 participants), which facilitates making personal connections. The conference is also largely free of marketing pitches (except perhaps for the tradeshow).

There is a lot of hype in this area, and there is an urgent need to look at the evidence, to share experiences on what works and what doesn’t, and to make predictions about where technology needs to go and how it should be applied in order to truly improve health. Let’s face it: There are thousands of health apps out there, and 99.9% fail to engage users.

Finally, it is a “World Congress”, so even though it is in Boston this year, participants will come from all over the world, including Asia and Europe, so this provides some interesting new perspectives for participants.

Who would you like to attend this event?

Gunther Eysenbach: Academic researchers, clinicians, practitioners (particularly in the field of public health and behavior change), policy makers, businesses, and e-patients.  When I say researchers, I don’t only mean health researchers, but also information scientists, social scientists, economists, etc. It is an international and interdisciplinary conference.  Last but not least, I would like to see some funders of research and development in this area attend the conference.