Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Are virtual communities good for our health?

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 20 April 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:925

Rapid Response:

Human communities can be empowered using virtual space to build health

Human communities can be empowered using virtual space to build

We have been using virtual space to empower health professionals to
manage the information they need and to share knowledge. In Infomed, that
is the Cuban health information network, the creation and improvement of
virtual communities have been one of the main strategies in order to
manage the information pollution. If you visit our portal for example, you
can find that we have facilitated the work of health professionals in
order to create information spaces that they manage and where the
professional groups manage by themselves the information according to
goals and needs of the health programs in our context. That means that the
human communities of practice, with their experience, their relationships
have been empowered in order to share knowledge and to manage the
complexity of the information needs of such communities. At the same time,
they share with other communities their perspectives and information
selection and recommendations and use other communities views to
complement their approach.

Then , if you need information about
hypertension for example, you can visit the hypertension portal space of
Infomed ( that is maintained by the Cuban
community of specialists with clear reference to real people and to their
teams and their institutional expressions, if you need information about
rehabilitation you can visit the virtual space of the rehabilitation
community ( and so on. The use of
virtual communities has been quite useful and has promoted the
appropriation of the virtual tools by health professionals without
renunciation to the way live is. I mean considering the way we normally
work. We need of course more research and we are doing that. Recently the
Journal of Medical Internet Research published an article about the
Infomed experience (Séror AC A Case Analysis of INFOMED: The Cuban
National Health Care Telecommunications Network and Portal J Med Internet
Res 2006;8(1):e1
) We have been worked since
1991 in the use of Internet for health and the promotion of virtual
communities have been essential to our strategy to use limited resources
in a goals oriented way. That explains why virtual communities have been a
very early answer to serve our professionals and users in general. Serve
yourself and serve the community.

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

05 May 2006
Pedro Urra
Director of Infomed, National Center for Information in Health Sciences
Infomed calle 27 No 110 e M y N. Vedado. La Habana. CP 10400 Cuba