The latest series of US e-health surveys suggest that doctors can improve care by making online health information part of the conversation with all patients.
An Optum Institute study demonstrated that 57% of the older population want to use IT to manage their health and communicate with their doctors. This survey confirms that doctors have to offer advice for all generations in relation to looking for reliable health information online. However guidance from doctors is needed as a Makovsky Health surveyrevealed that consumers view Wikipedia as a more credible source of health information than more traditional health publications online, with 31% supporting the former and 29% the latter. Additionally, the survey demonstrates that medical internet sites like WebMD are trusted more than advocacy groupsand government agency websites.
While patients go online to share experiences with each other as well as gain advice on communicating with health professionals, they also use websites to prepare for medical appointments or to research questionsthat they failed to ask their doctor.
However, can these websites make you solely dependent on the web for health information? Arnold Wald, a professor at the Wisconsin School of Medicine and specialist in gastroenterology, states that many patients trust information on health websites without consulting their doctor any further on the matter. However, patients should be informed that these health networks will only provide general information rather than actual medical care or personalised evaluations. Additionally, new research presented at the American Academy of Paediatrics National Conference revealed that online medical information should not be taken at face value because patients should validate any online findings with their doctor first.
Doctors could recommend reliable health information sources in their consultation although effective patient communication has never been a strong point. Constant changes in medical practice mean that doctors have less time to form a personal relationship with the patient in order to provide an adequate amount of information to them. As a result of the poor interaction with their doctors or other health professionals, patients could start using the internet as an authoritative and a primary source of health information.
But, doctors can move past these time constraints and communication problems if pharmaceutical companies equip them with the right information and programmes. With the ability for patients to find healthcare information online, Pharma and doctors cannot just dictate to the patient in a one-sided conversation. Instead, they need to help doctors create a ‘partnership-dialogue’ with patients that goes beyond the drug as a product. The pharmaceutical industry can improve the doctor-patient communication process through developing treatment adherence programmes which focus on listening to the patient’s emotional and medication needs as well as empowering the patient to set their own agenda for health management.
Although online sites have been significant in giving patients control over their own healthcare, the information on these sites is still in its infancy. Doctors need to verify any online medical information found as part of their duty to ensure safe and efficient care for the patient and so need to make this a part of their conversation. However, doctors should improve their initial communication technique with patients through collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry who can create a strategic plan that will deliver all the necessary information to the patient within a short space of time.
EU citizens are unable to afford life-saving medication due to ongoing cuts and austerity measures...
Pharma firms are looking to collaborate with the right delivery device partners as a number of...
Jeff Elton examines the collaborative, risk-sharing relationships necessary between Big Pharma and...