An all-India doctors’ survey revealed that the Internet is creating new-age hypochondriacs. Do you just search over the internet when you see a bump on your body? Or do you imagine suffering from a disease just because you read about it on the net? Have you ever taken medicines online on your own or further advised to relatives and friends? If the answer to any one of questions is ‘yes’, then you are a practitioner’s nastiest fear come true. A recent survey conducted across major cities in India including the metropolitan cities divulged that physicians are having hard times dealing with patients who use internet to find problems for their health issues.
An article in a leading magazine stated that medical websites are wreaking havoc for doctors. Without a shadow of a doubt, the internet has been a revelation. It has enabled users to access information at a fast pace which our predecessors couldn’t think off. It gives information on all sectors, what’s happening around the world second by second. But can too much information spell danger, particularly the online healthcare sector? Does it assist ill-informed patients who question treatments given by the doctors?
Dr Aniruddha Malpani, an IVF specialist and associated with HelpingDoc showed a different picture. He believes to be an attitude problem with doctors. The other side of the story is doctors are very much happy to greet patients who are informed beforehand about their problem. Patients who search over the internet and procure valuable information about their health issue are in a better position for developing a good doctor-patient relationship. He says right information at the right time for the right person is a commanding medicine.
Every piece of info is not about symptoms and diagnosis
There seems to be a general notion that healthcare website focus too much on a disease’s symptoms and diagnoses. Data from a well-known health portal suggested that only 10% search is conducted for articles related to symptoms of diseases. The reality is that health portals play a distinguished role than proving to be go-to source for diseases, symptoms and treatments. Individuals visiting medical websites do not just look for treatments, they search for natural ways to cure problems, treatment options, second opinions, health guidelines to understanding the pros and cons of a procedure, life after a surgery and more. The difference between a doctor’s consultation and visiting a health portal is that a doctor is a treatment provider but a medical website is the source of information about that treatment.
But doctors fear well-informed patients
For a long time, doctors enjoyed the monopoly of exploiting patients who would listen to their advice and follow everything they said. But the onset of internet helped patients and change this notion a great deal making them more informed. So does this throw shivers down a doctor’s spine? Doctors who have been practicing for long say it is always helpful to them when a patient comes informed about his/her ailment. It cuts down their time required to explain what the disease is all about. Dr Aniruddha Malpani agrees: “Good doctors are never afraid of informed patients as they know patients are sick and need the best possible treatment.” However, bad doctors may feel threatened because of lack of appropriate knowledge.
How internet is a beneficiary for patients
No doubt, internet is a platform where patients get plenty of information regarding any topic. The problem arises when that information is misleading. The genuineness of a medical website or its source of information is always in the question. One can only know about the righteousness of the information is by cross-checking it with the doctor.
For a patient who is sitting in a far flung area without access to top-end medical services, internet is a boon. Getting medical information online through a genuine website would help him understand the nuances of ailment properly.
Concluding, the medical websites are not going anywhere in the near future and they are going to multiply. Don’t dismiss them just because some people get sleepless nights after reading about their condition online.