Using the Internet to teach consumers about quality care.
BACKGROUND: The Internet is an important source of health information for consumers. Patients can learn about their diagnoses, review treatments and medications, and locate other health information for themselves and their families. Information about quality care can also be found on the Internet. Few consumers, though, use these Web sites for learning about quality care. SEARCH FOR WEB SITES ON QUALITY CARE: In 2000 the investigators searched the Internet and generated a list of approximately 90 relevant Internet documents under the broad heading of quality health care. They then pared the list to 34, by using the Health Information Technology Institute (HITI) criteria. TESTING OF INTERNET DOCUMENTS BY CONSUMERS: In the second phase of the project, 5 of the 34 Internet documents were tested by a convenience sample of 32 consumers. Most of the participants had experience in using the Internet, although generally not in the area of quality care. They found the Web sites easy to use and indicated that the Internet resources would help them assess the quality of care they receive from physicians, nurses, and others. DISCUSSION: Web sites need to be evaluated to ensure that the information they provide is accurate and current, among other criteria. All patients should understand their health benefits and the importance of making informed decisions about their health care, as well as how quality care is measured, how to use quality reports, how to choose providers and hospitals, how to assess the quality of their own care and be more involved in it, and what they should do when faced with new diagnoses.
Oermann, MH; Lesley, M; Kuefler, SF
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