On the Net ... with UPI

By ALEX CUKAN, UPI Technology News  |  April 3, 2003 at 10:00 AM
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Some 500,000 consumers per month are selecting their physician online via physician Web sites, a Harris poll reveals. The polling service reports patients are more likely to select a doctor who has a Web site, or one who uses e-mail. "Our surveys indicate that patients want online access to their physicians via the Web, and increasingly they are demanding it," explained Humphrey Taylor, chairman of the Harris poll. Surveys suggest patients will even change physicians to get this access, according to Taylor. Medem, a physician communication network that offers secure e-mail services, has 90,000 physicians participating. The network allows consumers to search for a doctor and read about the physician's background, education and training as well as learn about the practice's setting and philosophy.


Personal wedding Web sites are the rage because they can keep friends and family informed of the events pertaining to the Big Day. The happy couple can post online the numerous logistical details that revolve around the wedding day. The Web site, virtuallymarried.com, makes it easy for the engaged couple to design their own site because it does not require any programming skills to create and modify it. The couple merely fills out a form. The virtually married Web site provides maps and travel information, allows the posting of 150 photos and can receive RSVPs online. There is background information on the happy couple and even a discrete link to the bridal registry. Couples are charged $99 to keep the site online for 18 months, but the site also offer a 7-day unrestricted free trial.


A Penn State University study has found more and more people under age 65 are going online to get the latest traffic and travel information. The older set, however, continues to rely on radio and TV. Comparing data from a sample of nearly 1,300 people from 1997 to 2000 who kept travel diaries for a two-week period, researchers found, overall, people used television and radio most for traffic information with 69 percent. The Internet was next with 47 percent. As awareness of travel information on the Internet has increased, however, the frequency of using TV travel information has decreased, suggesting the Internet has gained in popularity, researchers said.


Former senator and current potential presidential aspirant Gary Hart has begun a dialogue with voters via his Web site, GaryHartnews.com. Hart has set up a committee to explore whether he should launch a campaign to be the Democratic nominee for president. Known as the "Atari Senator" in the 1980s because of his interest in technology, Hart has embraced the Internet and is writing a blog -- a public Web log, diary or open letter. "Anything that has the senator's name on the site is written by him and not his staff," Jack Sparks, Hart's spokesman told UPI's On the Net. In the last month, Hart's Web site has received 1.5 million hits, Sparks said, adding, "Whether or not Hart runs, he wants to get more people involved and he can do that via the Internet."


The Internet holds the key for luxury brand marketers, according to a survey of affluent consumers by Unity Marketing of New York City. The survey reports 44 percent of luxury consumers named Internet Web sites as "very" or "somewhat" important to making their purchase. Traditional advertising lagged behind with 31 percent of the respondents naming newspaper ads as influencing their luxury purchase; television programs and commercials at 28 percent, and magazine advertising at 24 percent. "Marketers waste the power of the Internet and minimize the effectiveness of their Web sites if they simply transfer traditional marketing communications from print or TV to the Web," said luxury market consultant Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing.

(Got a tip for UPI's On the Net? E-mail it to sciencedesk@upi.com.)

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