The Future of the Internet in Health Care: Five-Year Forecast

Robert Mittman and Mary Cain, Institute for the Future

This report provides a five-year forecast of the direction and pace of change in health care on the Internet, the driving forces behind the high expectations, and the barriers to the diffusion of health care applications.

January 1999

At the end of the 20th Century, the use of the Internet in health care had attracted a lot of attention. Many publications had featured stories on how consumers were finding medical information on the Web and changing the balance of power in the practice of medicine. Health care practitioners were also using the Internet to keep up in their fields, to communicate with patients, and to consult with each other. But there was -- and is -- a dark side to Internet medicine. Inspiring stories of lives saved through the Internet get equal billing with hair-raising tales of Web-based quackery. What are we to believe?

This report attempts to sift through the hype of the times and provide a realistic assessment and five-year forecast of the direction and pace of change in health care on the Internet. It begins by describing the driving forces behind the high expectations, then presents the barriers to the implementation and diffusion of health care applications. It also provides a forecast for six leading-edge applications for health care on the Internet.

The complete report is available under Document Downloads below.