9:25 - 9:45 amSaturday, September 28
LK 130
Is digital media literacy the hinge technology for linking eDoctors with ePatients in the 21st century?
LK 130
Is digital media literacy the hinge technology for linking eDoctors with ePatients in the 21st century?
Professor of English/Rice University
A strong evidence base has shown that social and environmental determinants of health, including literacy, play a more powerful role in shaping health outcomes than genetics or access to healthcare. Health... Read more

Description

A strong evidence base has shown that social and environmental determinants of health, including literacy, play a more powerful role in shaping health outcomes than genetics or access to healthcare. Health literacy has been identified as “a stronger predictor of a person’s health than their age, income, employment status, education level, and race” (AMA, 2007). At the same time, new scholarship on digital literacies for the 21st century has emerged from the fields of digital humanities and media studies. The concept of “digital literacies” emphasizes the importance of skills in reading, analyzing, and creating digital media texts as essential to the new forms of knowledge acquisition and information sharing in the networked age. Innovative media theorists such as Henry Jenkins and Howard Rheingold have embraced the concept of digital literacies as a critical framework for describing the new kinds of training required by digital native students, and innovative doctors such as Bryan Vartabedian have adapted this model for medical education.

My paper will demonstrate that digital media literacy can function as a hinge technology linking health professionals and patients by facilitating collaborative engagement in the health care system. I will begin with a review of the evidence supporting the role of health literacy and patient engagement as determinants of health, followed by a discussion of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s “Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit” (2010). While this valuable tool offers a response to the finding that only 12% of Americans are “health literate," it does not engage directly with thedigital literacies that the most proficient e-patients have employed in their own pursuit of health. Few resources exist that provide specific tools to help e-patients and their healthcare team develop the digital competencies necessary for optimized utilization of the networked intelligence of the 21st century. Major advances in the e-patient movement and in the practice of medicine have been enabled by networked digital platforms. The online information environment requires a robust critical framework that can enable patients and physicians to adapt the most useful tools of the digital revolution for their own health care needs. This paper will outline an approach to providing the needed tools for digital health literacy, using the applied example of the “Medical Media Arts Hub” to demonstrate the process.

The Medical Media Arts Hub is an innovative online platform and media creation space where undergraduates and medical students help medical professionals amplify their health messages through creative design. Students apply and refine their design skills in real-world contexts as they work with physicians, nurses and patients in the Texas Medical Center who need help visualizing information for health communication. The Medical Media Arts Hub generates direct benefits for all participants: students develop their portfolio through an applied, relevant context; health professionals receive reverse mentoring by digital natives as well as media that helps them improve their communication with patients; patients get to actively shape their relationships with providers through a collaborative process that empowers them to attain better health.

Kristen Ostherr is a media scholar who specializes in health and medical visualizations, historical, present and future. She is a Professor of English at Rice University and, with the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, she has recently gone back to school for a Master of Public Health degree at the University of Texas School of Public Health. Her goal is to bring media theory and health communication into a mutually beneficial engagement. So far, so good.

Her most recent book, Medical Visions: Producing the Patient Through Film, Television, and Imaging Technologies, was published by Oxford University Press in March 2013. Medical Visions explores how audiovisual media – from x-rays to 16mm film to television and the Internet – have trained both physicians and patients to see and understand health and disease. The book covers the entire 20th century, and peeks into the 21st – it is historical and theoretical, and it is meant to provide a useful framework for current medical professionals, educators, communicators, start-ups, and students to learn from the past to make the future better.

 

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