How the internet is affecting doctor-patient relationships

News item on doctor-patient relationships

Last year Medscape Medical News presented an interesting report on a discussion on how the internet is changing interactions between doctors and patients. The discussion took place at the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) 13th Annual Conference, but the information was not just relevant to cancer treatment.

Some of the points of interest discussed included the statistic that patients only absorb about 10% of the information they are presented with during an office visit. The panelists agreed that patients need additional resources for information and these need to be reliable.

There is certainly a lot of information available on the internet but, of course, not all of it is reliable. This may pose an additional problem for doctors because they cannot monitor all the resources the patient is getting their information from. It was also suggested that previously patients used to go online to get additional information after seeing their doctor. However health care professionals are seeing an increasing trend now for patients to seek information before their appointment so they go in better prepared.

One panelist from the IT industry said that doctors should not feel threatened by patients informing themselves about their conditions and treatments. The internet is addressing a fundamental need for information. It was also pointed out that while the Internet has transformed most industries it has had a limited impact in healthcare so far although there is potential for revolutionary changes to occur.

The example of a patient with multiple health problems who lives in one part of the country and becomes sick while holidaying in another region was given. At present the doctor who sees this patient will have no access to the patient's medical history, results of investigations and medication records. However sometime in the future there is the potential for all this information to be accessible in a secure manner over the internet to healthcare practitioners who are treating the patient.

We at Lab Tests Online Australasia and the other LTO sites around the world are trying to play our small part in providing reliable information about pathology to healthcare consumers both here in Australia and in an increasing number of other countries around the globe.

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