This week I will analyze the pros/cons of patients being able to access health care information on the internet. There is potential risk of credibility and reliability of health care information found on the internet and there is a concern with self-diagnosis among patients (Weber, Derrico, Yoon, & Sherwill-Navarro, 2010). 58% of internet users seek health care information on the internet (Underhill & McKeown, 2008) and 86% of patients use the internet to search for their health concerns (Chew & Eysenbach, 2010). With this high prevalence of health related internet use is this safe for our patients? How can we as healthcare providers protect our patients from misinformation found on the internet.
- Improves patient-physician relationship (Tan & Goonawardene, 2017)
- Social media can quickly spread health information to the public from credible resources (Chew & Eysenbach, 2010).
- Healthcare providers can provide health teaching on credible resources on the internet (Weber et al., 2010).
- Increase communication among patient – physician conversation (Weber et al., 2010).
- Health information seeking can provide warning signs and symptoms of potential health concerns for patients (Weber et al., 2010).
- Accuracy and reliability of health related information is questioned (Underhill & McKeown, 2008).
- Social media can amplify or intensify pandemics (Chew & Eysenbach, 2010).
- There is a lack of validity from internet users reading health information (Weber et al., 2010).
- Patients may resort to web-based information instead of talking the their physicians (Weber et al., 2010).
- Sites like Wiki can add, remove, or change content by any internet user affecting credibility (Weber et al., 2010).
- Self-diagnosis can lead to inappropriate diagnosis, herbal or drug use, and ineffective self-treatment (Weber et al., 2010).
- Patient may not be able to comprehend scientific articles found on the internet (Weber et al., 2010).
- Websites containing healthcare information may be trying to sell products to the consumer which can mislead the reader to false tendencies (Weber et al., 2010).
As healthcare providers we should be open about the information found on the internet. According to Tan & Goonawardene (2017), patient internet use increases conversation and improves patient-physician relationship when concerns of internet findings are discussed. The internet can be a good source of information for patients if the patient is taught how to browse the internet and how to access and understand credible resources. According to Weber et al., (2010), the health care provider can teach the patients the following acronym GATOR when interpreting internet resources:
A – Accurate
Check out this video regarding patient self-diagnosing on the internet:
Chew, C., & Eysenbach, G. (2010). Pandemics in the age of Twitter: content analysis of Tweets during the 2009 H1N1 outbreak. PloS One, 5(11), e14118. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0014118
Tan, S. S., & Goonawardene, N. (2017). Internet Health Information Seeking and the Patient-Physician Relationship: A Systematic Review. Journal of medical Internet research, 19(1), e9. doi:10.2196/jmir.5729
Underhill, C. &
McKeown, L. (2008). Getting a second opinion: Health information
and the Internet Statistics Canada, Health Reports, 19(1). Retrieved from http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-003-x/82-003-x2008001-eng.pdf
Weber, B. A., Derrico, D. J., Yoon, S. L., & Sherwill-Navarro, P. (2010). Educating patients to evaluate web-based health care information: The GATOR approach to healthy surfing. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 19(9-10), 1371-1377. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2702.2008.02762.x