Information is one of the primary sources of risk reduction, Deering said. In addition, the access to information is very empowering, by allowing people to take control of their own health.
Health information via the Internet is a hot topic right now, and there is a high demand for substantive information. One question, though, is how to provide quality information without being a top-down, paternalistic organization? How do you ensure reliability?
Another key issue is access. Community networks provide the best solution for that access. Right now it's mostly commercial ventures that are beginning to provide health information on the Internet: AT&T, CompuServ, HMOs, etc. Those of us that are concerned about having the technology available to people who really need it are now looking to community networks.
Deering summarized by stating three key issues to keep in mind: information overload, navigation, and access.
Barb Hau is clinical coordinator for La Plaza Telecommunity Foundation Rural Diabetes and Hypertension Project, and is a nurse with a background in health education.
The LaPlaza project is partially funded by the NTIA, and has the basic structure of a community network. The objectives of the project are:
Three area clinics are participants in the project, and included in the telehealth project's advisory groups are health professionals and consumers.
p> Project activities:
This project will not be an exclusive way to gather information, but is to be used to enhance more traditional ways of obtaining health information. Getting feedback from the users is important, to determine what is being used and how, and what changes might need to take place.
Reported by Jennifer Stone