The Internet has quickly become a powerful tool to enable customer self-service across a number of industries. Most of you reading this blog have probably booked a flight or bought a book a online. So, it shouldn’t be surprise to anyone that the Internet can be a powerful tool to help people take charge of the own health. This point was made in a recent editorial in the Ottawa Citizen (Monday, January 11, 2010). The editorial showcased the success of http://www.CheckYourDrinking.net, an online service from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health to help problem drinkers reduce their alcohol consumption. The editorial notes that the Internet is “by far a positive health-care tool” and that “Learning to read and navigate the Internet responsibly is an important way for people to take charge of their own health”.
Interestingly, when I talk to eHealth decision makers across the country, the plans for consumer / patient eHealth services seem tentative. While there is a general recognition that these services can have benefits and an awareness that there is growing interest among the general population for such services, the plans to implement them seem vague or are in the very early stages of consideration. The good news is that many healthcare organizations have put consumer eHealth on their priority list. Given the many benefits and the high level of interest (according to numerous surveys) among the general population, should these projects be given a higher priority?