Since the emergence of the public Internet in the early 1990s, the healthcare industry has been struggling to understand how best to utilize this resource. During the last decade there has been an increase in both the interest and participation by healthcare providers in the Internet space, but many observers continue to push for more development of healthcare resources to better support the provider-patient relationship.


This paper will review the historical development of the Internet, the core concepts that have driven the emergence and evolution of the Internet as a mass medium of information exchange, and how the healthcare industry can harness the Internet to improve the provider patient relationship.

Where are we now?

The healthcare industry continues to lag behind other industries that have been transformed by the Internet. Numerous industries including travel, real estate, retail sales, and banking have migrated both comprehensive information resources and transactions to the Internet in order to improve efficiency and customer satisfaction. That same process is occurring now in the healthcare industry. Credible and comprehensive Information resources are beginning to mature. Transactions are still in their infancy, reflecting a continued concern about privacy and security.

Where do we need to go?

We need to improve information resources to educate and inform patients. Improving the availability and credibility of information resources will empower patients to make better healthcare decisions and I contend will ultimately reduce the cost of delivering care.

How do we get there?

Orthopaedists must first recognize the value of information resources to the patient. Effective communication with patients is a critical component of providing healthcare services. All healthcare providers should reflect on the importance of developing an effective communications strategy for their own practice and consider the benefits of participating in efforts by professional organizations to improve existing information resources.

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