More Patients Exploring Health Info Online-Little Payoff for Docs?

June 8, 2010

In a report by Pew Research Centers, Internet & American Life Project, 61% of patients are going online for information about their health. In 2000, that figure was 46%.

In a report by Pew Research Centers, Internet & American Life Project, 61% of patients are going online for information about their health. In 2000, that figure was 46%. Whether investigating symptoms, confirming their suspicions, cross-referencing their online diagnoses with those of their physicians, researching the hospitals in which they plan to have surgery, or reading consumer reviews about specific doctors, e-patients are exploring their health options and playing an increasingly proactive role in their own decisions.

However, not all physicians are happy about the recent prevalence of e-patients. In an opinion piece by CNN contributor Kevin Pho, MD, “doctors work in a pressured environment with little time to fully interact with patients.” While online research can aid both doctor and patient, there is little energy at the end of the day and even fewer financial incentives for doctors either to communicate with patients online or employ electronic health records: “Medicare and the health insurers need to reward doctors who take the effort to engage e-patients both in the exam room and outside the clinic,” says Dr Pho. Rather than looking to doctors for improved communications, e-patients can focus on helping to change government policies and the health-care system, which can result in physicians being able to spend more time with their patients.

Related topics:Slips of the Fingers: Are Electronic Medical Records More Foolish Than Managed Care?Health Information Technologies for Practicing PsychiatristsWhat “Meaningful Use” of Electronic Health Records May Mean to Psychiatrists