Online Shopping for Medical Information

I overhead two women chatting about symptoms the other day while they were surfing WebMD on their respective iPhones for diagnoses - their discussion was as public and non-chalant as if they were shopping. I mused over this for a minute, unsure if I should be disturbed or not, and then found myself wondering which URLs really are the "go-to" sites for health information. An answer was only a click away via Google search at eBizMBA.com.

Take a minute and peruse some of these sites, if you haven’t already, because you’ve got patients, friends, and very likely, family who casually visit these sites when making the decision as to whether to call the doctor’s office, tough out the symptoms until something changes, or attempt to self diagnose and medicate.

That this information is available to anyone with online access is a good thing, I really do believe that. Used properly, information is power. It’s the “used properly” part that worries me from time to time, because while the amount of content available on the World Wide Web is expanding exponentially, the ability of the general public to evaluate the integrity of that content is not.

I think schools are doing their part to educate students how to evaluate information that is presented to them on the Internet, but I’m not convinced that what they do within the realms of academia translates into life beyond school projects. Plus, we have a large number of adults who did not necessarily receive any formal training in online content consumption, and to assume that they are resource savvy would likely be a mistake.

How many parents bring in their children to you with a print out of the potential diagnosis in hand? In your experience, do these sites do more good than harm? And if you could impart one important piece of wisdom to parents about online medical content, what would you say?

I overhead two women chatting about symptoms the other day while they were surfing WebMD on their respective iPhones for diagnoses — their discussion was as public and non-chalant as if they were shopping. I mused over this for a minute, unsure if I should be disturbed or not, and then found myself wondering which URLs really are the “go-to” sites for health information. An answer was only a click away via Google search at eBizMBA.com.