I received an email with a pretty startling quote the other day.
'85.6 million Americans say they have doubted a medical
professional's opinion or diagnosis because it conflicted with
information they read on the Internet.'
The source is a consulting firm and I don't have access to their methods of making this claim (which makes me immediately skeptical of the claim), however, I'm not entirely surprised.
I think arguing that number is not important though. I think what's more interesting to ponder is whether the number signifies a loss of trust in conventional medicine (and by association, doctors) or whether it suggests that the internet is improving as a source of medical information?
In my daily work I have seen many print-outs from internet sites on strange diagnoses and false claims related to patients' illnesses. I admit that I have cringed when having to spend extra time explaining that the claims don't fit with the current standard of care, sometimes enraging patients. I'm by no means the least open to that kind of discussion in my profession, others are offended by this questioning of their clinical judgement.
We, as a profession, have to accept the fact that the internet will continue to improve as a source of information for patients. With official sites like The Mayo Clinic, and WebMD improving and a new crop of social networking sites devoted to health coming forward it's just a matter of time until people can accurately find the information they need without an appointment to see us.
I want to be a part of the Health 2.0 revolution. I'd rather be at the negotiation table while the format of health information is being molded on the web. That's why I will be joining a team launching a new website in the coming week. In my next post I'm going to be giving the URL so you can all see what a blend of medical knowledge, Web 2.0 expertise and computer logic virtuosity can come up with!
Should doctors get into the Health 2.0 space? Start a discussion. I'm interested to hear what you have to say.