Considering the state of our medical care system, tools to help us manage our health issues and related concerns are a welcome benefit, especially when it’s free. Whether you’re researching symptoms for a basic diagnosis, check drug interactions, find doctor/specialist reviews, or even make an online appointment, the Internet is a great tool.
Obviously, even though medical-related websites are often run by professional, top-notch people, do not make any final conclusions based on online information without consulting your doctor. Rather, consider the Internet as a great jumping off point so you’re more informed when you meet with medical professionals in person. Let us take a day in the life of someone in a medical predicament and the benefits of tapping into websites starting with a general health concern perhaps diabetes Firstly, you can go to a number of reputable websites on your computer checking for symptoms- do be careful not to turn yourself into a hypochondriac. Mayo Clinic and WebMD offer a symptom checker and they are generally considered reputable by the likes of John Hopkins Medicine, the US Department of Health and Human Services, and others. It is easy to get caught up with multiple diagnosis’s and in my experience unless you really hit a bullseye do not jump to conclusions. You can use this information and mention your thoughts to your doctor when setting up your appointment. I would suggest not mentioning you looked it up on the Internet as many doctors are dubious about those relying on TV and the Internet for preconceived ideas.
Taking it from there- if you find some possible matches for your current malady you may want to peruse typical treatment courses and perhaps medications. If you do research medications, consider any you may be currently taking to be sure there will not likely be an interaction. Drugs.com and WebMD are both fairly solid for this application. There are even professional sites that doctors actually use to check this but many require a monthly subscription price. If you come across a concern whether before you seek professional help or after you may get a medication prescribed- I suggest bringing this up with your doctor or pharmacist. Typically, websites will address the level of danger when mixing certain drugs and sadly I can attest that drug interactions are missed by professionals even when you give a complete list of your current medications. You may save yourself from some serious problems.
Another scenario, perhaps you are new to the neighborhood needing a specialist, surgeon or even just a generalist- you should consider looking at online reviews, grades, and pertinent information. This can be handled via several ways such as a site like HealthGrades, Vitals, and possibly through your own insurance company’s website if you have a insurance plan. You may find a good doctor but a bad front desk, perhaps your medical professional has a lousy bedside manner, and importantly- look for any past lawsuits again him or her. If you are looking at surgery and get a referral- definitely see if you can find any specifics and reviews on your doctor. Most of the sites are based on personal opinions so you will need to take into account human error, perhaps a bad day, or even ratings put on there by a friendly party. The key takeaway being you should take it all with a grain of salt and see if there is a trend and consider the wording (i.e.- the review comes off like a car dealership commercial). Past lawsuits should be a deal killer for any surgeon unless you find the lawsuit to be frivolous. Just do some Internet searches on the doctor’s name and pertinent lawsuit details that were listed- you should find public records.
A newer offering online that may be useful to you is an Internet based doctor visit. These may even be covered by your medical insurer at a normal co-payment. I find these to be useful for a basic health issue where you may would have some general ideas of what is going on or at least can thoroughly explain your problems. I say that since your doctor will have difficulties checking your glands, blood pressure, temperature, and so forth. Obviously, the more information you can provide – the better. A good example would be if you just got back from a trip to Mexico (not singling out our Southern neighbor) and have not left the bathroom for 2 days. Chances are your online doctor can prescribe a moderate course of treatment and a prescription to assist. Do be aware that most online doctors will not prescribe higher scheduled medications like narcotic pain killers and other addictive items. However, if you need a quick helping hand and perhaps cannot leave the house- it is a great fit. Many services offer more diverse hours and days more so than your typical general physician. I have used these services twice now with very good luck. It can be helpful checking with your medical insurer on their suggestions and who they accept for coverage perhaps a company like Amwell or “dr+ on demand”. You will need a computer with an Internet connection, a video camera, microphone, and speaker(s) which are normally built into notebooks and typically your cellular phone.
Going beyond typical needs and concerns is the world of medical forums. These are medical websites discussing conditions like diabetes, and current treatments available for ailments. They can be an immense help for people dealing with spine issues, migraines, heart problems, and pretty much any health concern. Some of the typical respected websites like WebMD, LIVESTRONG, Mayo clinic, and NLM (National Library of Medicine) are great places to start for overviews and approaches. If you have chronic problems I suggest searching online for specific forums like spine failures where you can converse with others online that have been dealing with similar afflictions and what has worked or failed for them. Keep in mind that you are now getting feedback from everyday people but it can be immensely useful for helping with decisions on what course you may take for your health. Also, it is a great way to find new treatments on the horizon, ones that are trending poorly, and even just how to prepare yourself for a medical test, treatment, or surgery. There is a wealth you can learn from others experiences and you may avoid some pitfalls or perhaps a new approach that was not considered.
Simply a reminder- it may be advisable not to make a point of telling your medical profession that you have determined a diagnosis, treatment plan, and a medication regimen from surfing the Internet. Speaking with medical professionals I have found some are frustrated with patients that go overboard and have already decided upon their diagnosis and treatment plan. I suggest using respected websites to understand possible scenarios thus being better informed prior to your appointment and the ability to ask intelligent questions. Relying on television commercials and unsupported broadcast shows for medications along with jumping to conclusions can frustrate your doctor. The Internet is a great tool- use it intelligently and maturely. Good health and feel free to ask away!