ABSTRACT: E-Health innovations, collaboration, and healthcare disparities: Developing criteria for culturally competent evaluation.
E-Health alters how health care clinicians, institutions, patients, caregivers, families, advocates, and researchers collaborate. Few guidelines exist to evaluate the impact of social technologies on furthering family health and even less on their capacity to ameliorate health disparities. Health social media tools that help develop, sustain, and strengthen the collaborative health agenda may prove useful to ameliorate health care inequities; the linkage should not, however, be taken for granted. In this article we propose a classification of emerging social technologies in health care with the purpose of developing evaluative criteria that assess their ability to foster collaboration and positively impact health care equity. The findings are based on systematic Internet ethnographic observations, a qualitative analysis of e-health tool exemplars, and a review of the literature. To triangulate data collection and analysis, the research team consulted with social media health care experts in making recommendations for evaluation criteria. Selected cases illustrate the analytical conclusions. Lines of research that are needed to accurately rate and reliably measure the ability of social media e-health offerings to address health disparities are proposed.