Editor’s note: In this article, Michael Wong, JD (Founder/Executive Director, Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety) reminds clinicians that if they are not educating their patients, likely the internet is.
By Michael Wong, JD (Founder/Executive Director, Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety)
Where Do You Get Your Medical Information?
Like most people, I simply open an internet browser and type the disease state, symptom, treatment … and I receive information … and lots of it!
According to a survey conducted by Rock Health, my using the internet to search for medical information mirrors that of the majority of people in the United States.
Moreover, Rock Health found that people are not only getting their knowledge from the internet, but are acting on it:
- 56% of Americans that went online researching their symptoms and then went to their physician with their own diagnoses already in mind.
- 62% of Americans used the Internet to search for information about prescription drugs, and nearly 50% of Americans who have searched online for health information have asked their physician to prescribe or discontinue taking a specific drug based on information found.
Now, information on the internet or even from our major news channels can be accurate, downright wrong or hyped. A study published in The BMJ on the influence of media on behavior concluded:
“Exaggeration in news is strongly associated with exaggeration in press releases. Improving the accuracy of academic press releases could represent a key opportunity for reducing misleading health related news.”
The opportunity for any clinician providing treatment to a patient is therefore to make sure that that patient is given access to the best and most accurate information – otherwise the patient will go to internet or to some other information source and fill that knowledge gap.Physicians should make sure that their patients are given access to the best and most accurate information #patientsafety Click To Tweet
Studies have shown a correlation between effective physician-patient communication and improved patient health outcomes. Good physician-patient communication has been shown to:
- Facilitate comprehension of medical information.
- Result in patients being more satisfied with the care provided by their physician.
- Assist in patient recovery by making patients more agreeable with physician recommendations.
There are many barriers to good physician-to-patient communications – overworked clinicians, fear of litigation, and unrealistic patient expectations. Notwithstanding these barriers, physicians believe that they have communicated effectively with their patients – for example, 75% of the orthopedic surgeons surveyed believed that they communicated satisfactorily with their patients, but only 21% of the patients reported satisfactory communication with their doctors. Patient surveys have consistently shown that they want better communication with their doctors.
So, if you are a clinician, try to practice effective communications with your patients. And, if you’re a patient, be cautious about the source and quality of the information you are reading. Here are 11 points to consider when reading articles about health or frankly any news story: https://www.buzzfeed.com/carolynkylstra/hype-in-health-journalismThere is a correlation between effective physician-patient communication and improved patient health outcomes #patientcare #patientsafety Click To Tweet