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Study: 3 out of 4 using Internet for health info

A survey by the Pew Internet Project indicates that 75% of the US public uses the Internet as a resource for health information.

The report also indicates that as much as 10% of the American public uses the Internet to find health information each day.

The report’s author also said something that hints, we think, at an ongoing debate:

What do these numbers have to do with participatory medicine? I have seen our data used over and over to convince policy makers, medical professionals, investors, and even patients themselves that the internet is an important source of health information and a force for change in health care (whether for good or for ill). I’m like an ammunition dealer in the internet wars — all sides use our data since the Pew Internet Project does not endorse technologies, industry sectors, or outcomes.

The debate will be about telemedicine, the transfer of medical information via the phone or Internet (a valid practice if it adheres to certain standards) versus “online consultations,” a prescription provided via website by a doctor who never physically examines a patient (which is not considered a valid basis for a prescription).