SAN JOSE, Calif. 'Physician, plug in thyself' is the call to action at the annual Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) conference in New Orleans this week (Feb.25-March 1). The evolution and implementation of standards in data formats and profiles is setting a relatively slow pace for the rollout online medical services.
Companies such as Cisco Systems, Microsoft and Sun Microsystems announced new templates, tools and online forums to accelerate the build out. But so far consumers are outpacing doctors and clinics in going online for health care services.
The Internet accounts for three of the top five sources of health information for consumers, but those sources usually do not include their local providers, according to a survey of more than 4,000 people commissioned by Cisco Systems.
Only 27 percent of respondents said their medical providers have fully embraced the Internet to deliver health information and services. Sixty-two percent said their doctor doesn't have a Web site or email address they can use to schedule an appointment. In addition, 34 percent of respondents said they would like to be able to access lab results via a secure website, but only seven percent said they had that option.
"This is clearly a call to action to the health care community," said Dr. Jeffrey Rideout MD, Cisco's vice president of healthcare and chief medical director. "We need to overcome the obstacles to medical providers utilizing the Internet as a tool to provide better care and drive the adoption of cutting-edge services such as Internet video," he said.
Separately, Microsoft executives quoted an October 2006 study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project that said eight million people in the United States go online for health information every day. More than half of those people said a recent search had an impact on how they take care of themselves or someone else, but 22 percent said they felt frustrated by an inability to find what they were looking for.