Danish patients call for more Internet and e-mail communication

November 7, 2006

Demand is growing fast for hospital doctors and general practitioners to interact with their patients via the Internet. E-mail consultations are becoming more common, and more people want access to electronic health records, according to a Danish survey presented at the World of Health IT Conference and Exhibition in Geneva, Switzerland, last month.

Demand is growing fast for hospital doctors and general practitioners to interact with their patients via the Internet. E-mail consultations are becoming more common, and more people want access to electronic health records, according to a Danish survey presented at the World of Health IT Conference and Exhibition in Geneva, Switzerland, last month.

In Denmark, about 90% of households have Internet access. A national e-health portal was established in late 2004, enabling patients to read their medication history and have e-mail consultations (Technol Health Care 2005;13(5):366-367).

A survey conducted in October 2005 showed that 60% of Danes have used the Internet for health purposes: 3% every day, 7% every week, 19% every month, 17% every six months, 8% every year, and 6% less than once a year.

"Once they have access to the Internet, older people are just as likely to use it for health as younger people," said Henning Voss, a consultant to the Danish Centre for Health Telematics and project manager of Baltic eHealth. "The most common users are, in order, the well-educated, women, those in poor health, and those with children."

Of the 1000 respondents aged between 15 and 80, 45% thought that the Internet was a valuable source of health information, while 71% thought direct face-to-face contact with health professionals was important.

Other sources of information were also cited:


  • family, friends, and colleagues (51%)
  • pharmacies (41%)
  • television and radio (38%)
  • newspapers and magazines (36%)
  • books and leaflets (34%)
  • courses and lectures (19%)


Only 8% of respondents felt anxiety as a result of using the Internet for health, compared with 25% who felt relief. A fifth of the sample decided to change their diet and lifestyle as a result of what they learned on the Internet, and 19% used the Internet to make suggestions to health professionals. Another 5% used the Internet to change an appointment, and 3% used it to change their medication.

In a smaller Danish survey conducted in 2000, only 45% of respondents had access to the Internet 20% used it for health. In 2003, the comparable figures were 75% and 51%.

The Geneva congress was organized by the Health Information and Management Systems Society, the European Commission, and the World Health Organization. There were around 1700 attendees and 60 exhibitors. A follow-up event will be held in Vienna in late October 2007.

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