The value of broadband in the health care space is just beginning to register. There are several aspects to healthcare on the internet:
Doctor to Doctor:
This includes everything from watching surgery in real-time to being able to query other physicians on the efficacy of a course of treatment on behalf of a patient.
Doctor to Patient:
This allows a physician to directly contact a patient through (typically) e-mail to inform the patient of the results of a test, a reminder of an appointment, or to ask for the patient to take some action – from coming in for a consultation to going to their pharmacy to pick up a prescription.
Patient to Doctor:
Perhaps more important than the Doctor-to-Patient route this channel allows physicians or other health-care professionals to respond to specific questions from existing patients or answer more general questions from a potential patient who may be looking for the best medical match.
Doctor to Pharmacy:
The most common example of broadband use; the ability of a doctor to write an on-line script on behalf of a patient; for a pharmacy to ask for an on-line prescription renewal; or for a pharmacist to alert a physician to a possible contra-indication of a prescription when taken in conjunction with other medications about which the pharmacist is aware, but the physician my not be.
Patient to Patient:
Websites which are essentially on-line support groups in the model social networks with a close focus on patients with similar disorders or for people who are caregivers for those with a similar problem.
As with other social networking sites, individuals can, and do, conduct private on-line conversations which can have an enormously positive impact on helping each other deal with a disease or condition; keeping up-to-date with the latest developments; and debunking or correcting bad or outdated information.
The common thread which runs through all of these is the use of broadband for the electronic transfer of storing, retrieving and transferring patient information. According to the New England Journal of Medicine only 9 percent of hospitals have any electronic health records, and only 1.5 percent of hospitals in the U.S. have adopted a comprehensive, hospital-wide system.