Online information systems
This chapter explores a greater understanding of the needs of different lay and professional users of online medicines information, and describes the main types of medicines information available online and key web resources. It examines at least four main users of online medicines information: medicines consumer/patient, practitioner/adviser, prescriber and policy maker/resource allocator. Perceived risk is an important motivator for consumers to access online medicines information, and there are issues relating to the way that they might cope with conflicting information. The chapter describes three broad categories of medicines-related information: clinical, administrative and retail. Potential advantages for the public include 24-hour private access, rapidly updated information, a choice of information providers, and the ability to print out and keep relevant information for future use. The additional challenge with online information, however, is that the Internet is not a mature medium, and there is no equivalent heritage of 'broadsheet-tabloid' differentiation that helps consumers to judge the credibility of the information source.