Internet-based Patient Self-care: The Next Generation of Health Care Delivery (2)

Effect of e-Technology on the Patient-Physician Relationship

A Harris Online poll found that patients who use the Internet to look for health information are more likely to ask more specific and informed questions of their doctors and to comply with prescribed treatment plans. The "school of lay medicine" found on the Internet offers an important opportunity for patients to become actively engaged in their own care. During the pre-Internet era, medical information was published in medical textbooks and journals only, whereas patients can now gain access to citations of more than 12 million medical articles online.

Patient Self-management Using e-Monitoring

Several monitoring devices using the Internet have been developed to help patients manage their medical conditions at home. For example, diabetic patients can test their blood glucose level by using an e-device, which with the click of a computer mouse downloads the result to a health care practitioner. Patients with heart failure can step on an e-scale, which sends instantaneous alerts to health care professionals when the patient's weight exceeds the desired range. An e-shirt can be worn which transmits heart rate and respiratory rate over the Internet. A pill-sized camera can be swallowed which transmits pictures of the digestive tract over the Internet. Research is needed regarding health outcomes, cost effectiveness, as well as the long-term acceptance of these devices by patients.
The federal government has invested $28 million to evaluate home glucose monitoring via the Internet to homes of underserved rural and inner-city residents in New York State. The largest eHealth grant ever funded by the government, this study will serve as an important test case for the possibility of e-technology to improve health outcomes.

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