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From The CriticsReviewer: Bruce Houghton, MD (Creighton University Medical Center)
Description: This discussion of how computers impact on health care at various levels is an update of the 1997 book by the same author.
Purpose: The purpose of the book is to provide some history of the relationship between computers and healthcare. It also reviews how computers can be "empowering" for patients, truly assisting them in healthcare decisions and how computers can improve the overall quality of care for patients. I believe these objectives are met.
Audience: The audience includes anyone with an interest in computers and their impact on healthcare. As one of the pioneers in this field, Dr. Slack is certainly a credible authority.
Features: The book covers how cybermedicine impacts patients and clinicians, and provides information about some future directions. The book is extremely well written and very easy to understand for patients and clinicians who may not be very computer savvy. The focus of the book is always on how technology will improve healthcare. The author points out many times that if technology does not have a true benefit then there should be no need to bring it into the healthcare realm. Chapters that are quite good include "The Clinician Online" which reviews the history and future directions of how physicians may use electronic information. "Cybermedicine and the Care of the Patient" is a well-done chapter with important information for physicians. The entire first section on how patients can use computers for their own "empowerment" is extremely well done.
Assessment: This is a wonderful addition to the field of cybermedicine and it makes it possible for the lay public to become informed on all of the advances in the field. The book has been updated with special attention to the Internet and to barriers that impede the effective and appropriate use of computers in healthcare.