Splendid post on the always excellent Clinical Correlations last month: The Doctor vs. the Google Search: How to Enrich the Provider-Patient Relationship in the Age of Internet Health Information. It begins:
There is a stranger in the clinic room, and it is not your patient. This stranger is a multifaceted, opinionated entity with likely conflict-of-interest. This new acquaintance has already spoken to your patient and influenced the direction of this visit in the form of health statistics, symptom explanations, and feared complications. Now your patient wants to know what you think.
The stranger in question, of course, is the all-seeing Dr. Google.
Patients have always been influenced by the anecdotal – Great Aunt Tilly had a runny nose once and it turned out to be a brain tumor! – but thanks to Dr. Google, patients now meet thousands of Aunt Tillies every day and bring you enormous, inkjet-stained stacks of medical research to prove it.
Even though a lot of the information Dr. Google doles out is inaccurate (check out the post for a cool study that analyzed how bad online search engines were at answering 5 common pediatric problems), patients loooove him. Multiple studies have shown that a majority of Americans seek health information online and believe that the information they find there is the same as or better than yours. Ouch!
So how do you compete with this virtual snake-oil salesman when you’re lucky to get 10 minutes of face time with your patients and he’s wooing them 24 hours a day?
Bottom line? Make yourself the go-to source for your patients: online, in person, all the time. You know you’re better than old Doc Google – make sure your patients know too.