Today consumers are increasingly comfortable with their home computers. National surveys show that patients embrace the idea of e-mailing doctors and electronically scheduling appointments and refilling prescriptions.

Following society's growing need for instant results, more health care providers are starting to offer online access to their patients - and the number of enrollees continues to climb. Patient and physician access to medical histories via computer provides safer and better quality care than paper files, experts say.

From December 2006 to May 2007, the number of Kaiser patients enrolled in KP Health Connect climbed from 25,000 to 42,000.

At UC Davis Medical Center, a similar program called MD Online offers prescription refills, referral requests, appointment scheduling and e-mails to physicians. Today 25,000 patients use the Web site, an increase from 15,200 in December 2005.

Such conveniences save time for people like Taylor, who said even her prescriptions are printed out by computer at the doctor's office or are sent directly to the pharmacy.

"That means," she joked, "no more messy doctor handwriting to deal with." | 07/28/2007 | Patients take doctors' visits online


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