Internet Technology in Health Care: Utilization of Internet in Personal Health Care Management
This paper discusses the emerging role of the Internet technology in the management of personal health care and the role of internet illness discussion groups in promoting proactive and participatory patient role. Use of Internet technology has become health information resource for most internet connected patients. Health web sites, message boards, listservs, and chat rooms are emerging as a virtual forum where patients discuss their health care issues and experiences with each other. This paper examines the extent to which patient participation in online health discussion groups were reported to be helpful in increasing medical knowledge and enhancing participatory patient role in interaction with health care professionals. Data for the research was collected through an internet survey from three hundred and fifty patients who were participating online discussion groups for cancer patients. Majority of the sample reported that group interaction, even if it was in cyberspace, was very helpful in improving their knowledge about their illness and encouraged them to be proactive in the management of cancer and to take a more ‘participatory patient role’ in communicating with their health care providers. This paper proposes that the traditional pattern of doctor-patient communication is changing as a result of widespread use of internet by health care consumers. Further studies will need to address the importance of the utilization of internet technology in health care service research.
Keywords: Internet, Information, Patient, Participation, Health Care Services
Dr. Gül Seçkin
Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Maryland