The New York Times has nicely summarized the ways to find and digest health information online. Here's what they had to say...
I definitely see two sides to the proliferation of online health information. One side I have already articulated. That is the empowerment that people can develop related to diagnosis and treatment and the teamwork that can start to develop between doctor and patient. If the methods of communication between doctors and patients evolve then more effective 'service' can be provided by two active participants in the therapeutic partnership.
On the other hand, even if every shred of information on the Internet related to health were true, there's too much to digest. As I turn to my bookshelf as I write this post I see 18 volumes covering some of my specialty area. That's only a portion of what I need to read, evaluate and integrate in order to take my exam. In other words, that's the information regulatory bodies think it is important to review to develop competence in my specialty.
As the Internet is so full of information, and growing daily the 'book shelf' that we will all have to go to in order to find the information we need will keep getting longer and longer. What will be more important that being able to find it will be filtering it. Another thing that will be key to using the Internet will be developing new, more patient-centred ways of collecting information. If the methods used for collection of patient feedback are properly designed we may see new insights into the treatments we use...and really find out what's working and what isn't.