TODAYS’ PATIENT HAS ACCESS AND SUPPORT FROM THE INTERNET
Today, the patient is able to take a more active role in the management of their healthcare, mostly due to the effects of digitalization of medicine.
Basically, the patient is aided on two main fronts; 1) Access to information, and 2) Support.
ACCESS TO INFORMATION
We will dedicate a page to a list of specific websites for patients to obtain medical information, for this one of the biggest benefits of Internet Medicine. With the internet, and the proliferation of health websites, the patient of today is privy to almost an unlimited supply of medical information, and data. Website like WebMD and Medpedia inform the patient about symptoms, physical findings, and possible treatments of almost any medical problem. There are also websites certain diseases, providing much information, also, about symptoms, treatments, etc. For example, meningitis.com,, hemorrhoids.org, etc.
It merely is a question of being diligent about finding good informatOon, and collaborating with the healthcare provider to come up with a treatment plan. In this scenario, the patient is no longer just a passive partner, but an active, informed participant. There may be a slight learning curve for some patients to access this information, but most families and friends have someone who knows how to hunt information on the internet, and can be easlily retained by the patient. Furthermore, there is also a website which simplifies the “medspeak” that doctors use, the technical language that is common. The website www.medify.com takes the medical terms and puts it in laymens’ terms, so that anyone can understand the sometimes complex language that doctors use.
The internet also allows patient access to research doctors, their reputation, board certifications, etc.
Again, we will list on another page in this section the various websites that function as support groups for patients.There are many, good support groups for patients on the internet. Sites likePatientsLikeMe.com provide a treasure trove of medical information, and allows patient to join, online, support groups according to their type of illness. For example, patients with rheumatoid arthritis may join a group, that discusses the latest developments of medications that do not injure their stomachs. Diabetics may be able to track the progress of Internet Medicine finally finding the Killer App of a non-invasive glucose monitoring test. The support does not necessarily mean information gathering, but can be in the form of “We are all in this boat, how do you deal with it, mentally?”
Carepages.com is yet another site, similar to PatientsLikeUs.com in providing support. There is also a site, called Caring Bridge, which is designed to aid both the patient and the patient’s family, in providing online updates of the patient’s health status. For example, Mr Jones, may have a brother in San Francisco, who was admitted in a diabetic coma, and it’s late in New York, so he goes online to check if his brother’s condition has stabilitzed, if he may be discharged soon. Since this is new scenario on the medical scene, it will be interesting to see how this develops. For example, it is possible that all the labs, and radiographic studies are put on the patients account, so that, with the right password, a family member may have access to this info, and may access from his family members’ bedside, so the hospital staff need not be bothered to fetch such info.
In short, the patient can chose to use the power of the internet to improve his knowledge of his illness, his possible treatments, and for support groups, if the illness is chronic