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Internet use could predict patients' participation in own medical care

July 02, 2013
Healthcare IT By LW Consulting Inc.

There is no question that the internet, cloud computing and mobile devices have become a main aspect of many businesses and their customers' daily lives. The same holds true for the medical field and patients at healthcare organizations. More hospitals are working toward implementing electronic medical records and bring-your-own-device strategies, while still ensuring that patients receive quality, cost-effective care.

Recent research shows that individuals who are more active on the internet are likely to be more involved when it comes to their own personal health. The University of Texas at Austin, the University of Florida and the University of Maryland conducted the study, which was published this week in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR).

"When medical professionals attempt to gauge how much information to provide patients or try to decide how much they should involve patients in medical decision-making, they may be better off if they base their decisions on patients' internet use frequency rather than age, per se," the researchers said in their report.

Specifically, researchers wanted to find out if there was a connection between how often patients used the internet and then what their preferences were in finding information on their own about their health and making a decision. Additionally, the study sought data on how health treatment, diagnosis and other aspects were viewed by patients when they were more prone to access the internet themselves.

As medical facilities become further connected, working with a healthcare IT consulting firm can help them decide how best to involve patients. Whether it entails setting up a patient portal or simply encouraging more communication between doctor and patient, a hospital consultant can help an organization find the right balance.