2) Shifting the burden of care to a home setting
With the cost of high-tech medicine spiraling out of control and managed care organizations stuggling to drive down the cost of health care delivery, there is a rapid migration to out-patient care in the home setting. In fact, home care is the fastest growing sector of the health care industry. The Internet's ability to deliver health information and services directly in the home is a marriage waiting to happen.
Self-Managed Care( is highly appealing to consumers and policy-makers as a new direction for our health care system. A recent survey by NBC News found that over 62% of Americans made a New Year's resolution to improve their health in 1997. Self-Managed Care emphasizes health and well-being, consumer empowerment, and increased utilization of natural remedies and alternative medicine services, which are generally less invasive and more cost-effective for common conditions as well as chronic disorders. The demanding baby-boomer population, many of whom are now managing their own health as well as the health of their children and aging parents, are opting for less-invasive, natural approaches to health and well-being as their primary strategy, tending to avoid the medical system in non-emergent cases.
At the same time, the consumer market in the U.S. is primed for natural and alternative medicine information, products and services. As early as 1991, over 34%
of Americans were utilizing alternative medicine services, according to a Harvard
study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.6 The study also showed that people made more visits to alternative practitioners (425 million) than to all primary care M.D.s (388 million) and expressed greater confidence in their alternative physician. This trend is also illustrated in the Natural Products Industry, which has now reached $17 billion in annual sales and is in a state of accelerated growth.7
HealthWorld Online has aligned itself with three separate but philosophically attuned health-related movements to form the foundations for Self-Managed Care--the wellness, self-care and alternative medicine movements--each of which has taken root in United States over the past 20-30 years. These parallel themes of Self-Managed Care are now recognized as essential foundations of the emerging 21st century medicine and are playing pivotal role in the democratization of health information on the Internet.
Today individuals are looking to manage their own health through a wellness-oriented lifestyle, enlightened self-care, and when necessary, the use of safe and cost-effective natural therapies. Savvy health consumers want a full range of treatment options from both conventional and alternative medicine. The key word is choice. The Internet can provide the elements for developing a wellness-oriented lifestyle, and the information, resources and education for effective self-care--and the Internet brings the information on-demand, into our homes and offices.
Self-care information and resources abounds on the Internet, which is only appropriate for Americans as we have a deeply ingrained tradition of self-reliance dating back to Thoreau at Walden Pond and to our Founding Fathers. Tom Ferguson, M.D., father of the medical self-care movement, author of Health Online, and coordinator of the Self-Care Central site in HealthWorld Online, sees the Internet as the ultimate vehicle to bring information about self-care practices and self-help resources to individuals worldwide--providing the means for people to effectively take more responsibility for their health.