Healthcare has discovered the Internet and the Internet has discovered healthcare! A rapidly growing number of Internet sites are dedicated to helping consumers find the information they need to make decisions about their health and health care. Patients are creating online communities that provide peer support, information on the latest research, and personal stories about their experiences. Healthcare professionals are using the Internet for research, to get access to the latest information in their field, to consult with their colleagues, and to keep in touch with their patients. Almost every healthcare business - from insurer to hospital to pharmaceutical company - has a website.
Why is the use of the Internet in healthcare growing so quickly? How sustainable is that growth? What kinds of health-related applications will develop over the next five years? How will the Internet affect healthcare delivery and health outcomes? In all the excitement about the Internet, there inevitably will be unrealistic expectations about its impact on the healthcare industry. This forecast sorts through the current hype to give a realistic assessment of the pace and direction of change for the next five years.
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