Computer use in everyday life has expanded human potential in virtually every possible arena. In health care, computer technology affects direct clinical care through diagnostics, treatment, monitoring, and documentation processes. Patient care systems use computer technology to manage billing, scheduling, and multiple other administrative functions. Computer technology for education of health care professionals has been primarily in elected undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree programs. Computer-based continuing education for health care professionals has been available for at least a decade, but computer-based patient education is just now beginning to emerge as a learning options. This article describes examples of patient education programs using different types of hardware and software and explores potential areas for further development of this area for end-stage renal disease patients and families. Computer technology is not a replacement for professional involvement in patient education, but rather offers a new arena of media to enhance and expand current teaching and learning resources. Computer-based learning is characterized by features representative of many highly regarded principles of adult education. Further, instructional design concepts used for program development are fundamentally sound for patient education.
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