Editor’s Note: Health Affairs is proud to be a media partner for the Health 2.0 Meets Ix conference, which will take place April 22 and 23 in Boston, Massachusetts. As part of the lead-up to the conference, which will focus on the interplay between the Health 2.0 and information therapy (Ix) movements, Health Affairs Blog and other participating blogs will feature a series of posts discussing ideas that will be featured at the conference.

The post below is the first in that series. It is jointly authored by Matthew Holt and Indu Subaiya, cofounders of the Health 2.0 Conference, and Joshua Seidman, president of the Center for Information Therapy.

On April 22–23 in Boston, two ideas are going to come together. Health 2.0 has been defined in different ways, but is most often considered to be the use of lightweight online technologies that allow consumers to access and exchange health information via the now familiar search, communities, and tools. Information therapy (Ix, or information prescriptions) involves the proactive delivery of the right information to the right person at the right time, usually as part of the care delivery process.

However, while both Health 2.0 and Ix are focused on improving patients’ participation in care, they tend to come from different backgrounds. Ix tends to be “prescribed” to the patient, often by a clinician (although system-triggered Ix and consumer-prescribed — either “self-prescribed” or recommended by a peer, caregiver, etc. — is also part of the definition). Ix innovations have had the greatest penetration in organized systems of care with robust provider and patient health information technology (IT) applications, such as Kaiser Permanente and Group Health Cooperative in Seattle.

Health 2.0 had its start with non-health care organizations delivering content, communities, and tools to consumers online — often in the absence of the health care system paying much attention. Thousands of communities about every conceivable health condition exist online, hundreds of sophisticated tools have been developed for consumers and clinicians to use, and now the ability to create and store patient data online is becoming much more prevalent. But in general it’s been savvy consumers, followed by technology and media companies, who have been leading the charge.

In addition, Ix has been focused on delivering the “right” information, often implying “evidence-based,” although “right” can have other definitions as well. In Health 2.0 communities, there’s often wild disagreement about what the evidence base actually shows and what the correct course of action is. Last Tuesday’s post in Well (the NY Times patient blog) about the complexity of understanding the correct course of action in PSA testing for prostate cancer is a typical example.

So can these two movements live together? Better yet, are there synergies that can help them to thrive? Is this a case of the proverbial combination being greater than the sum of its parts?

We are going to find out in Boston on April 22–23 at the Health 2.0 Meets Ix conference, hosted by the Center for Information Therapy and Health 2.0, LLC . We are also going to find out whether the current health care system is ready to adopt Health 2.0, Ix, or some combination. The format will be a series of Great Debates.

Health Affairs is our media partner in this event, and Susan Dentzer will play a large role in helping moderate these debates. But as a teaser, several of the debaters will reveal some of their cards in Health Affairs Blog and several other blogs in the coming weeks. We think you’ll enjoy the debate!