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  News & Gossip:
The TFR 'Bright Ideas' Contest

Thanks for the many interesting news items, journal article summaries, speculative white papers, recommended books and Web sites, provocative proposals, and other e-mailed goodies you've been sending our way. These have been so useful and thought-provoking that we've decided to offer an award for the most interesting and intriguing 'Bright Ideas' we receive. We invite your contributions: In the realm of online consumer health, what's the most interesting and useful idea, tool, person, factoid, survey or study result, etc. you've come across lately--and why? Submissions in any and all forms are welcome-- sites 2B seen, my favorite bookmarks, personal mini-essays, mini-op-ed pieces, provocative questions for other TFR readers, or whatever. We'll share some of the best--and acknowledge their authors--in future issues. Here are a few to start with:

Ed Madara (EdMadara@aol.com) invites TFR Readers to suggest a type of Web site they'd like to see but haven't yet been able to find. Ed says that he would love to have a single site that listed all the Health Appraisal/Assessments (if possible, with reviews) all in one place. (Anyone know of such a site?) Ed adds that he often finds netlingo.com a useful place to look up unfamiliar Internet-related terms. Ed is Founder and Director of the American Self-Help Clearinghouse. (www.selfhelpgroups.org)

Online consumer health researcher Tom Houston (thouston@jhsph.edu) recommends a recent research paper reporting a clinic-based survey of patients with Internet access in which more than 80 percent said they wanted to communicate with their physicians by e-mail: W.J. Mold, J.R. Cacy, and E.D. Barton, "Patient-Physician E-mail Communication," Journal of the Oklahoma State Medical Assn., 1998, Vol. 91, No. 6, pp. 331-334. Tom is a research fellow at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Our old pal John Grohol (www.psychcentral.com) recommends a recent study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project (www.pewinternet.org) which found that far from encouraging social isolation, the Internet may well do just the opposite: active users of online communications demonstrated more extensive support networks and improved communications with friends and family members. The study also found that more than 9 million U.S. women logged on to the Internet for the first time in the last six months, closing the gender gap among Web surfers and raising the total number of Americans who use the Internet daily to 55 million. A recent New York Times story provides a useful summary of the study's conclusions. (www.nytimes.com/library/tech/00/05/circuits/articles/11surv.html)

Correction: In TFR #6, we misstated the findings of a recent Kaiser internal survey that found that Kaiser patients who used Kaiser's new patient-accessible Web site (www.kponline.org) reported fewer clinical visits. Our apologies. The correct conclusion is as follows: A Kaiser team reported that 10.9 percent of the patients who used Kaiser's patient web site (kponline.org) said that the site had saved them at least one visit to the doctor's office.


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Copyright © 1999-2003 Tom Ferguson, M.D. The Ferguson Report is a free e-mail newsletter published at unpredictable intervals for the friends and associates of Tom Ferguson. ISSN 1520-5487