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The World Wide Web is a relatively inexpensive and pervasive communication channel that could feasibly let doctors and nurses continuously monitor the progress of thousands of patients throughout the world. Reducing medical research costs and enabling communication between patients and care providers is especially important for rare diseases because they often have limited research funds and a relatively small number of patients in each country. I describe four case studies that show how the Internet can streamline the clinical trial process and monitor patients remotely, rather than act merely as a search engine. The Web could reduce health-care costs and decrease the heath-care systems' response time in high-risk situations.
Date of Publication: March-April 2002