E-health Gains Ground in Highway Chase

Tuesday, July 26th, 2005
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

Guest Blogger: Jennifer Millman

My 17-year-old sister is more Internet-savvy than all members of my immediate family combined. She downloads music, sends e-mails and instant messages to friends and is adept with search engines.

According to a recent report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, my sister’s precocious expertise is not so unique. This study found that almost 90 percent of youths ages 12 to 17 have Internet access, citing teenage girls ages 15 to 17 as the most avid users.

Current trends in patient education and IT highlight e-health initiatives – online self-assessments, interactive tutorials and informational tools – as fantastic potential to control costs, improve health awareness and reduce utilization. E-health offers vast resources for those that know how to navigate the Internet.

Struggling to fit in during the tumultuous time of adolescence, American youths are especially vulnerable to proselytizing advertisers. As such, this population is prone to make impulsive decisions that satisfy the needs of their immediate social environments, whether through cigarettes, alcohol, fast food, no food, tanning booths or reckless driving. The list goes on.

Technology, in and of itself, presents tremendous opportunity as a medium of education, given teens’ penchant for modern means of connection. Awareness campaigns could be interwoven in e-mail reminders, Internet pop-ups, instant messaging and online advertising. We could have health promotions in I-pod cast content and cellular text messages from service providers. The potential is explosive.

Adolescents are swarming the Internet in record numbers; it’s the only highway on which they can’t get pulled over for speeding without a license. We know what mediums they’re using. If we want to encourage education, we’ve got to get in gear and meet them halfway.

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