MedPageToday is one of my favorite Internet stops for up to date medical information and news. One of their weekly articles is “10 questions”, a Q&A with the top docs in various medicine specialties. The questions are all the same, but the answers are insightful and personal.
The questions that most interest me are:
What’s the biggest barrier to your practicing medicine today? What do you most often wish you could say to patients, but don’t? What is the most rewarding aspect of being a doctor?
Rather than cite a specific paper, I’m going to say the emergence of the Internet and social media. The Internet has put patients and physicians on an even playing field, with patients having as much access to information as their doctors do. This has changed the role of physicians. Rather than acting as a gatekeeper of health information, they need to be curators of that information instead, and filter out all the misinformation patients may be reading online. Patients are not only researching their health, but their doctors as well. Powerful social media tools allow physicians to educate patients and define their online presence. An online reputation will soon be as important, if not more, than a reputation in the community.
He nailed that answer. Medical providers are curators. The Internet can be a curse, or an empowering source for people looking for answers to their medical questions. Beware the chat boards where people tell their horror experiences with a medication or lament about the excruciating pain and suffering they endure with the disease you were just diagnosed with.
Exercise caution when tempted to buy a non FDA regulated “proven effective cure for cancer” and “guaranteed or your money back” program for curing your terrifying anxiety. Don’t just google your symptoms or forage the Internet for medical information – you WILL find misinformation, and could be terribly misled. Be wise. Instead of just curator, ask your provider to be your Internet gatekeeper. Or Ask Kevin Pho. He’ll point you in the right direction.
Yes, that’s me at the top Not one of my better pictures, but at least I look better than Mr. Bones. I told you this was eye-popping.