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Yes We Can? Can All Americans Join the Imminent Electronic Health Care Revolution? A Survey of Patients Receiving Care at a Public Hospital

A critical component of President Obama's health care reform effort has been to expedite the development and widespread adoption of electronic health records. Many health care provider organizations are making electronic health information available to patients.1 While 81% of US adults were reported to be online in 2008,2 the percentage of patients receiving care at public hospitals who use the Internet is uncertain. A decade ago, Robinson and colleagues3 reported that only 20% of disadvantaged patients served by a public hospital had Internet access. Since then, others have shown low Internet use among patients receiving care in public hospital systems, typically ranging from 10% to 20%.4-5 To evaluate whether patients receiving care at a public hospital would benefit from the provision of electronic health information, we sought to characterize the trends in current Internet and mobile telephone use of an ethnically diverse population receiving care at a public hospital in northern California.