What does the future hold?


The question for our field is whether the Internet is something that can make our careers easier, more efficient, and more effective. From our personal standpoint, the answer is yes. That is because specific programs or WWW sites are identifiable by us that we can use and have found to be helpful. In a certain sense, the Internet is a fluid, expanding library of information. We can only begin to anticipate novel uses of computers in medicine, but expect that geographically dispersed centers will be routinely pooling patient data for descriptions of rare disorders and for management trials; that electronic medical records and radiographic data will be the norm; that physicians will use medical decision-making software as frequently as medical textbooks; and that the textbooks themselves will be available in continually updated, on-line versions that include audio and video data as well as linkage to outside references and Web sites. As more information and programs are made available, the usefulness to our profession will increase. Certain organizations, such as the American Academy of Neurology and the Child Neurology Society are trying to take the lead and help organize and review the information that is available. The best is yet to come. As neurologists, we should judge the usefulness of the Internet not on what it contains in 1998, but what it will contain in the near fut ure.