Doctor Google and The Patient

With online health sources and social media sharing, information about Crohn's disease is everywhere. Learn how to mesh Dr. Google with your actual doctor.

Doctor Google and The Patient

By Jewels Doskicz, R.N. Published at Last Tuesday Views 440 Likes 1

What’s ‘the elephant in the examination room’? The internet is.

Or so says Peter Conrad, a sociologist at Brandeis University, who speaks on the developing authority of the internet and its influence in healthcare. The spontaneous flow of information at our fingertips has changed the playing field for providers from their traditional role of pitcher to catcher.

The advantageous slant once held by medical providers privy to their hidden information is now easily accessible to patients across the globe in seconds.

With Dr. Google on our side, many patients have become experts in their disease niche, sometimes approaching appointments with information their providers have yet to come across themselves.

Information Sharing

Like it or not, social media sharing amongst disease communities and through peer-to-peer interactions provides patients with a unique look into the management of their disease. Through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, disease-specific websites and blogs, and other platforms, the stream is endless and incredibly informative.

These social environments have proven to empower patients in very positive ways. Patients are not only taking ownership, but also control of their chronic disease — it is ours after all.

‘Patients as experts’ is certainly a new and evolving concept for providers to embrace. Depending on one’s approach and the provider’s willingness to engage, the interaction can be a smooth experience fostering a wonderful alliance, or could feel like sandpaper, abrading the relationship altogether.
One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to long-term relationships with health care providers. Finding the right fit is important; our health depends upon it.

Meeting in the Middle

The reality is that patients are presenting at appointments ready for negotiation. With education on their side, the conversation has shifted away from being told what to do to being active participants in the decision making process. Some patients may find themselves teaching providers about new technologies, research or disease management tools.

How do we meet in the middle?

Instead of scolding patients, Stanford School of Medicine suggests we “applaud them for their initiative to take part of their health care, for their enterprise and interest to learn about their condition, for their correct intuition to follow up with their physicians.”

Keep These in Mind:

• Pat yourself on the back for your extra efforts of educating yourself on your condition.
• Educated and empowered patients decrease costs of service though knowledge and skilled Crohn's disease management.
• Oftentimes our ideas may be the best ideas when incorporated into daily living.
• Patients benefit practitioners from the ground level up. We can teach what it’s like to live with
and to be a parent of a child with chronic disease; all it takes is a listening ear.
• We’re the active voice of Crohn's and it’s vital that providers know what’s important to us in managing this illness.
• By sharing quality online resources with providers, they can, in turn, help other patients struggling with the very same issues.

To learn more about patient empowerment:

Crohn's Disease: Three Things You Need to Know about Patient Empowerment
What to Do when Your Doctor Won't Tell You What to Do
Staying Connected with Crohn's Disease

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