Research: Projects

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  • Dr. Warren Wiechmann
  • Office: 714.456.5239

Access to the Internet in a Mixed Population ER

The objective of our study is to collect survey responses from patients regarding accessibility to mobile devices, texting, internet access, email and social media such as Facebook and Twitter. We aim to quantify the percentage of our emergency department patients who have access to these resources. We hypothesize that the vast majority (90%) of our patients will have access to the internet or mobile devices.

Emergency departments are an essential resource in the community but because of the nature of single visits their ability to educate the patient population is limited. Physicians are limited to short visits with patients, and discharge instructions and information often consist of short verbal conversations by physicians and very generalized paperwork.

With mobile health apps, Internet blogs and podcasts becoming proliferate, it is time that medicine and physicians start using these resources and exploring these media to educate patients and the community in general. As the first line in medical care, and the “jacks-of-all-trades” emergency physicians are uniquely positioned to educate patients on a variety of topics. Before emergency physicians can use these media, we must examine whether our target population (our patients and the community they live in) can truly access these resources.

Prior studies have measured accessibility to the Internet, however, these studies were not done at UC Irvine, and the most recent data collection we found on our literature review was from 2009, and it is likely that accessibility has increased since that time. Based on observational experience, the authors felt that the vast majority of patients including homeless, chronically ill and undocumented patients had access to the Internet in one form or another. This study seeks to quantify that access and clarify the percentage of our patients who can access these resources, as well as those who would like educational resources through these means.