With the popularity of the Internet, more and more people are turning to their computers for health information, advice, support and services. With its information based firmly on research, The Internet and Health Communication provides an in-depth analysis of the changes in human communication and health care resulting from the Internet revolution. Representing a wide range of expertise, the contributors provide an extensive variety of examples from the micro to the macro, including information about HMO web sites, Internet pharmacies, and web-enabled hospitals, to vividly illustrate their findings and conclusions.
In this final chapter, we advance some touchstone issues for consideration by scholars and policymakers. We also seek to highlight experiences that suggest some might wish to temper what we judge to be excessively exuberant expectations of what the Internet can deliver in terms of health care.
Perhaps the most seductive of expectations—especially for providers—is that the Internet in general and Web sites in particular will improve health care services while lowering costs and reducing staff. We are skeptical. Moving services onto the Internet will not yield anything like the purported benefits; rather, it will increase costs and require more labor. Our prediction is not entirely pessimistic; the Internet will improve many aspects of health care, and in some cases ...