Filtering Helps E-patients, per MIT Media Lab

For those interested in a contrasting viewpoint – because there are always at least 2 ways to look at an issue – to my recent post about the potential effect of the “filter bubble,” I am using this post to present the other side of filtering. Filtering – in layman’s terms – is the way by which companies  like Google and Facebook (“gatekeepers”) determine what your search results will be, using algorithms that incorporate data from your prior search habits. Ian Eslick recently sent me a link to an article that explains the positive aspects of filtering. Eslick is a PhD candidate at MIT Media Laboratory and is studying how filters apply to healthcare information on the web. Here’s an excerpt from that article:

In an era of increasing information overload, the filter is a necessary and valuable tool and we’re only at the beginning of the technology curve.  In the context of health, filters are critical to improving the effectiveness of the rising class of e-patients.

This is a fascinating topic that is not new, but that I have recently discovered. I certainly don’t claim to be an expert, which is why I am posting the MIT Media Lab’s perspective, as well.

Do any of you out there have thoughts on the topic? How about filtering as it relates to healthcare information? Did you know about the concept of the “filter bubble” or personalized search results or is this also the first you have heard of it? Do you see other pros and cons to it? Does this topic even matter to you?


2 thoughts on “Filtering Helps E-patients, per MIT Media Lab

  1. Dear Dr. Linda Pourmassina,

    It’s a great pleasure to read your blog. I find your post very informative. History taking is important and some info you supply can preclude a disaster. The electronic healthiness records have exacerbated that trouble as the records is on hand long time before the patient as a matter of fact reaches the healthcare facility ward and so the filter bubble is made before any possibility of getting the history from the original source.

    The advantage of this “filter bubble” is: Each one who consequently sees the patient tends to look at the medical record before interviewing the patient. That does spare the patient repeated querying however takes away the health care provider one step afar from the original source of info.

    As a reader, I consider your writing to be a great example of a quality and globally competitive output. It would be a great thrill and honor if you could share your genuine ideas and knowledge to our community, Physician Nexus. With this you can gain 1000 physician readers from over 62 countries on Nexus.

    We would love for you to visit our community. It’s free, takes seconds, and is designed for physicians only – completely free of industry bias and commercial interests.

    Rafonzel Jane Rañeses
    On behalf of the Physician Nexus Team

  2. “Filters” is really just search bias. This is helpful for consumers and patients. With it, Google has profited massively. It also allows patients to come to their Dr with information they found that are manageable and appealing to them.

    The “filter” is not good for physicians, consumer search engines are not our job tool. I’ve seen an intern google treatments and recommendations because he didn’t know what to do with a positive PPD. We should be able to bring our professional knowledge to the meetings with our patients, and help the patient sort out which of their “google results” is most beneficial to their health.

    So I think there are two sources of data, with very different purposes…

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