Harvard Medical School - Portugal Program - Quality Healt Information for Portuguese Speaking Countries

Rita Morais Lirio* Antonio Vaz Carneiro, Faculdade de Medicina de Lisboa, Lisboa, Portugal
Rita Morais Lirio*, Harvard Medical School - Portugal Program, Lisboa, Portugal

Track: Practice
Presentation Topic: Health information on the web: Supply and Demand
Presentation Type: Oral presentation
Submission Type: Single Presentation

Building: LKSC Conference Center Stanford
Room: Lower Auditorium 130
Date: 2011-09-17 04:30 PM – 06:00 PM
Last modified: 2011-08-12

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In April 2007, the Portuguese Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Harvard Medical School (HMS) to identify a potential for cooperation. We report on the six first months of this program.
The goals of this program are to encourage internationalization cooperation between Portuguese schools of medicine and major national research centers and HMS, in areas of translational research and health information.
One of the main lines of action consists of the systematic production of information concerning health for the general public in Portuguese. Activities will include the creation of health information contents and the development of technological platforms for the delivery of this information. The program will also include training of journalists and medical writers in the understanding, use, and communication of health information.
This program was developed because research over the past 30 years has demonstrated that people can powerfully protect their own health through adopting healthy lifestyles, and that people with chronic illnesses can partner with health professionals to help monitor their illnesses. At the same time, the interest of the general public in health and in the implications of biomedical research for health has risen greatly. Thus, there is great potential in a nationwide initiative to improve the availability of health information for the general public, and thereby to improve its health.
It is also believed that the development and public dissemination over the internet of high quality health information in Portuguese can be valuable to people in all Portuguese speaking countries, especially in Africa and Brazil (a community of over 200 million people). Harvard Medical School Portugal -Program is working with all Portuguese Schools of Medicine, Associate Laboratories in the area of biomedical research, other academic research units, National Institute of Health (INSA), and other governmental, non-governmental, and private institutions on several initiatives designed to educate the citizens of Portugal about health, medicine and biomedical science. In 2011, the priority is to increase the availability and understanding of health and biomedical information for the Portuguese speaking public. The innovation from this program is to generate a structure for production of high quality and accessible health and biomedical information.
So far a sizable amount of health information (some 900 contents describing the most common medical disorders and preventive medicine, novel/relevant findings in different medical fields all delivered in multiple formats: text; videos; quizzes; tips) are being disseminated on a basis of a blended communication strategy (communication 1.0 + communication 2.0) with focus on web 2.0. This blended communication strategy was adopted to reach different public segments with different ages, education levels, and information needs. So far, HMS-PT web 2.0 channels, in particular the Facebook HMS-PT webpage, is proving to bring added value to this blended communication strategy, as it enables the creation of buzz around HMS-PT contents among Portuguese health web leaders and web opinion makers. The program will be formally evaluated in terms of its impact on improvement of health literacy of the Portuguese public.

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