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June 19, 1996

Medical Informatics

Author Affiliations

National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, Md

JAMA. 1996;275(23):1821-1822. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530470049029

Since our review last year,1 3 applications of medical informatics have seen substantial progress: computer-based patient records,2 telemedicine,3 and electronic biomedical publishing.4 The evidence lies not only in technical advances but also in heightened commercial activity and in efforts to address related public policy issues. Development was accelerated by the national information infrastructure,5 most visible in the expanding Internet and its now dominant World Wide Web.6 Users anywhere on the Internet now get information and computing services from Web sites on computers in many different places. New programming languages, such as Java and Python, even allow users to download "executable code," in a sense turning the idea of computer viruses in a useful direction—and potentially reducing the amount of computing power needed in individual user workstations.

Despite years of work,7 lack of a business case for investments in computer-based patient record systems, telemedicine