Development of Web Application to Enhance Medical Research in Low and Middle-Income Countries; An Investigation of the Social Implications of Medical Websites

Kemper, Katharina, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
JACQUES, RICHARD, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Graham, Daniel, EN-Comp Science Dept, University of Virginia

Technological advancements have changed the health industry by making it more cost-efficient and found faster outcomes for patients and medical staff. Paper records have been replaced with Electronic Health Records (EHRs) that allow nurses and technicians to input patient data into a central, digitized system that improves documentation access and quicker identifier of medical errors (, 2019). Both the technical and the STS deliverable address various aspects of technological advancements that have changed the health industry and medical research around the world. The technical is an example of a credible medical website created for medical professional users described in the STS research.

Limited access to medical research for low and middle-income countries like Nepal has halted or slowed their medical advances. To address this problem, medical professionals at the University of Virginia and the Nepalese Association of Palliative Care developed a web-based library to increase research capacity in Nepal and similar countries. Developers used a variety of both computational and communication skills from different computer science classes at the University of Virginia with the creation and maintenance of the website to ensure a high user experience. The website creates an experience for users to easily access different clinical resources about non-communicable diseases and mobile health via the internet. Future work will include further increasing global research access for all low and middle-income countries.

The research project looked at how specifically the internet has spread information on public health with its impacts. The open access to health information on the web has created new opportunities for patients and doctors to make educated decisions about medical treatments, but much of that information is subject to manipulation as they are either outdated or incorrect. Many websites create and spread fictitious medical advancements that are not based on any scientific research. Therefore, this paper analyzes the usage of websites as a tool to communicate with many people that have different levels of medical expertise about public health and medical research.

The Internet has become a tool for medical experts and patients to communicate and learn about different health information. The technical deliverables for the capstone project focus on the usage of such a website, Virtual Library, to spread knowledge of medical research to low-income and middle-income countries. Alternatively, the STS paper analyzes the efficiency of the Internet in spreading information on public health by looking at the social implications of using medical websites. It shows that there can both be positive and negative impacts on the general public and medical experts and that it's crucial to spread awareness of potential incorrect or outdated health advice presented on the World Wide Web. The STS paper and technical deliverable for the capstone project are tightly coupled as both focus on the usage of technological advancements to present medical findings or diagnoses.

I want to thank Dr. Virginia LeBaron, Catherine Elmore and the rest of the team from Nepal and UVA with providing medical research and other content for the website. I want to also thank Arati Gishing-Tamang for being an external reviewer for the language translation of the website. I also want to thank Jason Schwendinger for helping with setting up the AWS account and ensuring certificates. I am also grateful for Dr. Jacques, who has given me the right direction and guidance to complete my STS thesis paper.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Medical Websites, Harms of Medical Websites, Benefits of Medical Websites

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
Technical Advisor: Daniel Graham
STS Advisor: Richard Jacques

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