A new "Heath Care Poll," from The Wall Street Journal and Harris Interactive, reveals that the medical profession is lagging behind other service sectors in the use of Internet-based solutions to communicate with and manage customer information.

Patients would like to have more access to e-medical records and other online means of communicating and transferring medical information. In fact, if given a choice between a doctor who provides such services and one who does not, over half (54%) of the respondents said this would influence their choice of doctors.

A large majority of patients (77%) would like to get e-mail reminders notifying them of office visits or other types of medical procedures and almost as many (75%) said they wanted to schedule appointments online.

Most patients (74%) would like to use e-mail to communicate directly with their doctors.

Very few patients in the US have access to these communication technologies…because very few doctors offer them.

The foot dragging is not all the fault of the medical profession, however. While most patients agree that using electronic medical records would improve the quality and safety of medical care and reduce the cost of health care, 62% of them also worry about patient privacy issues.

Getting the medical profession online is about more than reticent doctors, dollars or even sense. Fears on the part of both physicians and patients must first be overcome.

More here.