Use of the internet as a source of medical information
As paper records give way to Electronic Medical Records (EMR), lengthy doctor visits are replaced by online medical consultations and medical accuracy takes on a new meaning with online second opinions; the entire health industry looks in awe at the amazing metamorphosis.
Internet has redefined the way a patient reacts to and looks at his illness, its diagnosis and treatment. Today, a patient with a stigmatized or terminal illness walks into his physician’s office, armed with rolls of information, ready with questions and undaunted by trauma of being in dark about his condition.
The advent of information technology in healthcare has finally come of age. After the initial resistance, the systems in the healthcare industry have eventually relented, giving way to newer and innovative methods of health and information management in this sector.
With the face-visit time with a doctor dipping to an all time low of even less than 10 minutes per patient, internet is being hailed as the most instrumental innovation of the modern times.
According to the results of the annual U.S. consumer health data study by Manhattan Research (September 2006), an increasing number of Americans have been turning to the internet, looking for information related to various health issues. The figures stood over 44 million in a period of 12 months that was double the number from two years ago.
In another revelation, 77.1% of online adults surveyed (55 years and older) had been using the internet to research for healthcare information at least once a week.
Impact of Usage
A series of new trends have emerged because of the internet usage in relevance to the healthcare information.
Internet has changed the way patients handle their illnesses with their physicians. A study by the Consumer Health Sciences reveals that the patients who use the internet to look for healthcare information are more likely to question their physician than the non-internet users.
An increasing number of doctors are also referring various websites to their patients. A recent study revealed that over 70% of Asian doctors suggest that their patients view a given list of websites for information.
Points to Consider
There are a certain set of rules you need to follow when visiting the internet to look for healthcare information. Here we list a few points you need to consider:
- Be careful when you choose the website. It is always advisable to consult multiple websites for single medical issue.
- Trust the information only if you can validate the source.
- Do not rely on websites that openly disrespect other sources of knowledge.
- Do not be misled by a comprehensive list of links, as any website can be linked to the other.
- Make sure all content includes date of publication or modification.
- Avoid any quick and easy solutions offered for your complex health problems.