The Internet is an incredible resource. All the information in the world is available with just a click of the mouse. A question about what the weather will be, or how to get somewhere, or even what the theory of relativity means is immediately answered. This means great things for mankind, even if mankind is feeling under the weather! The infinite encyclopedia that is the Internet can also answer questions about how you got that rash on your arm, or what it means that your arm hurts when you move it, but these answers aren’t always right. There is no real authority on the Internet, ensuring that all the information a patient reads will be right. Sure, sites such as WebMD® can be a reliable resource and certainly has a user-friendly way to list symptoms and get possible answers as to what may be plaguing you, but it does not have a feature that can tell you what you do not have or have the ability to eliminate incredibly rare diseases; and it’s easy to get carried away.

The wealth of information at the fingertips of patients has an enormous impact on doctor-patient relationships. In the office, a well-informed patient can be a benefit to diagnosis and treatment. On the other hand, a misinformed patient may seem like a huge detriment. It behooves all healthcare professionals to be aware of this changing dynamic. The healthcare professional should remain the authority in the office, while still allowing the patient to play a part in their healthcare plan. It is critical to acknowledge that it’s important for patients to play an active role in understanding their healthcare—and not make them feel as if their own involvement is unnecessary.

In many ways, a well-informed patient is an excellent benefit to healthcare professionals. A well-informed patient is one that is invested in his or her health, and wants to have some control over their outcomes.  This investment is very helpful when dealing with patient compliance, so it should be used to the healthcare professional’s advantage. Encouraging patients to remain involved in their health can be best achieved by providing them with engaging and accurate information about their health conditions and concerns. While the Internet has much of the information a patient may need, the correct information should be reinforced by his or her doctor, nurse or caregiver to prevent misinformation.

To assist patients in using the internet to their advantage and avoid them being misled by inaccurate literature, healthcare professionals should attempt to provide their patients with as much information as possible about their disease states or health concerns. Patients should feel that their doctors and nurses are still their best resource regarding questions about their healthcare, and that their opinions and enthusiasm are valued. Patients should be encouraged to use credible sources like the CDC, American Cancer Society, and other associations, and understand the possible shortcomings of Wikipedia. But most importantly, patients should never be discouraged from being actively involved in researching their health. In this age of such easily accessible knowledge, a well-informed patient is one that is more likely to have a good attitude about the management of their condition and healthcare.

At REALITYRx communication, we have the expertise to engage patients, so that they will want to learn more about their treatments, conditions, and options.

If you’re interested in providing patients with the information patients are searching for about your brands and healthcare conditions, contact Jon Male: jmale@realityrx.com or Bob Karczewski: bkarczewski@realityrx.com

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