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Internet – Not the Only Answer to Disease Management

July 2010

According to a 2010 Pew Internet Study, patients with chronic health conditions are disproportionately offline. The study, Chronic Disease and the Internet, found a significant "internet access gap"between healthy adults and those living with chronic conditions. With significant disease management focus centered on Internet-based delivery platforms, this finding raises questions about the ultimate usefulness of online tools.

The numbers are not small, in terms of patient populations or health care costs. The survey sites research that puts chronic health incidence in America at nearly one in two American adults, with health care costs aggregating to more than 70% of the nation's annual health care bill. For the chronically ill population, the direct health care provider remains the most significant source of information.

Provider organizations investigating on-line technologies must carefully consider their patient demographics. Strategies for facilitating Internet access within target populations are clearly required, as are non-Inernet-based tools and approaches to care management.