The beauty and curse of the Information Age is that so much stuff is right at your fingertips. In less than five minutes, you can learn at what age John Stamos first appeared on TV (starred as Blackie Parrish in General Hospital, 1983), how to prepare the perfect roasted duck (little salt, some paprika, butter and a couple hours in the oven) and what that odd discoloration on your right middle toe might be.
It's pretty common for patients with similar conditions to get together on-line and discuss their conditions, according to a US News & World Report. Here's what your patients might be checking out—PatientsLikeMe.com, CureTogether.com, CarePages.com
Our physicians gave these sites mixed reviews. Some doctors are pleased that patients are taking such a proactive interest in their health. But other doctors aren't too thrilled when a patient walks into the office, with print-outs from Web sites and a self-diagnosis of their condition.
Sidenote: My grandmother was recently admitted to the hospital for complications with her congestive heart failure. While my father was waiting to hear back from the doctor, he explained to me that her “creatnine levels were at about 0.3mg/dL, which is low. They should be up around 0.6mg/dL.”
"How did you know this?" I asked.
"I Googled it."
Great, Dad. But I think we should double-check with the doctor.
Coming up: Tweeting Health Care: Beyond 'Twitter Surgeries'...