A New Internet Initiative: Educating Consumers about Medical Technology

Medical Device & Diagnostic Industry MagazineMDDI Article IndexINTO THE INTERNETOriginally Published June 2000FIRST PERSONResponding to survey results, HIMA is launching a Web site that will link consumers and developers of medical technologies.Blair Childs

June 1, 2000

5 Min Read
A New Internet Initiative: Educating Consumers about Medical Technology

Medical Device & Diagnostic Industry Magazine
MDDI Article Index

Originally Published June 2000

Blair Childs

HIMA has started a bold new initiative on the Internet to better inform all healthcare consumers about the medical technologies that can improve their lives.

Why have we done this?

At the risk of oversimplifying, let me say that we're responding to popular demand. A few months ago, our eyes were opened by a HIMA-sponsored survey of Internet users to the tremendous on-line interest in healthcare news and information about new developments in medical technology. In ever-increasing numbers, millions of people are turning every day to the Internet for health information in a way that is new and powerful. We had realized that research on medical-related topics was a rapidly growing trend among Internet users, but we hadn't known how large the movement had become until our own survey sketched out the dimensions.


Among other things, HIMA's on-line survey of Internet users told us that:

  • More than 87% of people who go on-line use an Internet site for information about products

  • The number-one reason for visiting health-related sites was to find information about an illness or injury, with the number-two reason being information on the latest health trends and technologies, as cited by 71% of respondents. Another reason cited was to obtain information related to a health profession.

  • Knowledge of new technology was rated an "extremely important benefit" by more than 56% percent of respondents and an "important benefit" by more than 30%, with only 2.6% rating new technology knowledge as "not at all important."

  • Additional areas of interest mentioned by respondents included access to information on the latest research findings and to information about medical equipment suppliers.

  • More than 42% of respondents stated that there were services, information, or benefits that their current on-line health-information source did not provide— a strong indication that there is a perceived need among users and ample room on the Internet for new information offerings in this area.

Encouraged by these very positive findings, HIMA's board has approved a collaboration with the e-health information company Body1.com Inc. (Cambridge, MA) to launch a new medical technology Web site. The goal of this undertaking will be to educate and inform consumers and medical professionals about existing medical technologies as well as the latest technological advances in the diagnosis and treatment of patients.


In joining the veritable stampede to go on-line, we in the medical technology industry must recognize the tremendous changes the Internet has wrought on healthcare and doctor-patient relations. At HIMA's annual meeting in Phoenix this year, Holly Atkinson, MD, a physician who also happens to be chief executive officer of HealthAnswers.com, told us that 58% of all doctors report experience with patients who walk into their offices carrying Internet printouts of medical information they wish to discuss.

Not only are patients becoming "Internet literate," so are their physicians. We are told that the medical students of today are not merely computer literate, but "computer dependent."

Clearly, medical technology information is moving onto the Internet. It only makes sense for the industry to go there too, because that is where patients and their doctors are already reading and talking about us—on message boards, in chat rooms, and at the host of healthcare information sites. As a communications tool, the Internet gives us a tremendous opportunity to inform and educate doctors and patients about new technologies that can save and improve lives. It also offers us a chance to present the facts about the healthcare public policy issues that affect how soon and under what conditions patients will have access to new technologies.


HIMA's joint venture on the Internet, http://www.MedTech1.com, will be unlike any of the other consumer healthcare Web sites you might have visited. Visitors to the site will first encounter a wide variety of healthcare information, including a searchable database of medical technologies, clinical trial information, and public policy information on medical technology issues.

The new Web site will enable consumers to easily find information on the latest developments in medical technology and participate in on-line discussions of medical technology issues. It will feature profiles of patients, physicians, and technology developers, as well as advice from medical experts. Hopefully inspired by what they see and read, site visitors will be able to communicate directly via e-mail with technology providers and with the offices of their elected representatives on Capitol Hill.

Not too far down the road, developers of new medical technologies will be able to showcase treatments, surgical procedures, and diagnostic tools on the site with downloadable video and audio presentations and demonstrations. Patients will be able to see and hear the latest and best medical technologies, which they can then discuss with their doctors.

HIMA and its partner, Body1 Inc., will jointly provide the content for the site, which will also feature information sponsored by individual medical technology companies.

Pamela G. Bailey, HIMA's president, put it this way: "This major step for HIMA—and the medical technology industry—will enable companies to directly reach out to the millions of interested consumers with news and information about medical technology. For the first time, we will provide a direct connection between the consumers of medical technology and the developers of this technology. This Web site will serve as a powerful tool for two-way communications that will benefit both the industry and the patients that we serve."


HIMA is committed to building the premier site on the Internet for consumers who need the latest and most authoritative information on healthcare and medical technology. Our intent is to make MedTech1.com the leader in informing consumers about medical technology breakthroughs and a trusted information resource for patients and physicians.

Medtech1.com will become fully operational soon. Please stop by for an on-line visit.

Blair Childs is HIMA's executive vice president for strategic planning and implementation.

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