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Conventional medicine astonishingly slow to adopt online technology, e-mail

Tuesday, February 06, 2007 by: Beau Hodai
Tags: e-mail, doctors, medical technology

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(NewsTarget) Despite the spread of increased internet availability, e-commerce, and a whole system of global communication made available by the internet, many doctors seem reluctant to offer online services to their patients.

A study conducted in 2005 by Harris interactive for the online edition of The Wall Street Journal found that only 8 percent of respondents had ever received an e-mail from their physicians.

According to a 2006 survey conducted by Manhattan Research, only 25 percent of doctors said that they had any internet communication with their patients.

Some doctors are reluctant to conduct an online relationship with patients because they fear that they will be inundated with patient e-mails, or that patients will e-mail reports of potentially serious symptoms of a health emergency, and that doctors may not read them in time.

Meanwhile, some patients are reluctant to utilize online medical resources for fear of compromised patient confidentiality.

According to Debra Roter, who researches communication between doctors and patients at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, the medical field “has been astonishingly behind the rest of the world,” when it comes to communications.

However, some health services offered online are beginning to gain popularity.

“Patients are much more careful about using e-mail than we thought they’d be,” said Kate Christensen, medical director of KP.org, a secure website that provides services to 600,000 Kaiser Permanente patients.

“To me it saves a lot of time. You can get right to the point,” said Doris Taylor, a retired nurse who uses the service to communicate with her Kaiser Permanente internist.

“Conventional doctors are not only a decade or more behind the times when it comes to technology, they’re nearly a hundred years outdated when it comes to nutritional knowledge,” said Mike Adams, consumer health advocate and founder of NewsTarget.com. “Conventional medicine is an industry that insists on living in the past, refusing to embrace new technology, new knowledge or new therapies that might actually help patients.”

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