In a new report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, Internet access for individuals with lower household income and educational attainment is in the range of 61 percent. It’s interesting to note that until recently, this was the overall Internet penetration rate for all Americans (it’s now at 76 percent). The former percentage for all Americans (63 percent) was enough for many health care organizations to pursue connectivity with patients in higher education and income brackets. Now that everyone has reached this plateau, perhaps this access should be universal across health care.
The report also includes useful insights into the role of libraries in our communities. There is a great opportunity to integrate libraries into our health care system as a key agent of Information Therapy applications.
The low-access (no access or Dial-up only) group is potentially a core group of customers for the nation’s public libraries. Although they are less likely in general to use the the library than the high-access group (39 percent vs. 61 percent), those with low-access are equally likely to turn to the library for help with their problems (health care, paying for health care, and government benefits).
Prior to my move to Washington, DC, I did some work with Seattle Public Libraries (see A Dialogue at the Public Library about Internet-enabled Care). The ground is fertile for this collaboration.