Physicians Leading Patients to Quality Medical Information Online

To create and foster high patient engagement, every patient must be able acquire thebook-1659717_1920 necessary knowledge to be informed. For the longest time, the main source of medical information for patients was their actual physician. Physicians were the gateway into understanding one’s own body and disease process. This has rapidly changed because of the internet.  No longer is medical information trapped in old books or a physician’s mind.  Now there are thousands of ways to find medical information, much of it completely useless, inaccurate, not widely applicable or simply plain wrong.

Many physicians will complain that their patients find medical information online and want to discuss it or use it to drive diagnosis and treatment. They are worried that the information their patient found is not accurate, that it will distract a patient from the real medical issue.  To some degree, all physicians worry about losing their position as an arbiter or gatekeeper of what medical information their patient receives, losing that feeling that their patients see them as the expert.

The next natural step for physicians is to become a guide and help patients navigate health information themselves. It should be a physician’s responsibility to to lead their patients to high quality medical resources. As physicians we need to steer our patients towards good information, which will limit opportunities for them landing on less accurate or just plain quack medicine sites. Below is a good place to start when trying to find good quality medical information

General Medical Information
To find high quality medical information on a wide variety of medical conditions I would start with WebMD, Mayo Clinic, FamilyDoctor.org, KidsHealth and the Center for Disease Control.
www.webmd.com
www.mayoclinic.org/patient-care-and-health-information
www.familydoctor.org
www.kidshealth.org
www.cdc.gov

Condition Specific Medical Sites
To research a little more deeply on specific conditions I would recommend the following sites. Both Cancer.org and Cancer.net are excellent resources for information on cancer. Heart.org and Diabetes.org are great for researching cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The National Alliance of Mental Illness has great resources on mental illness.
www.cancer.org
www.cancer.net
www.heart.org
www.diabetes.org
www.nami.org

If you are looking for an objective reference for alternative medicines and treatments, the best place to start is the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. The website for this division of the the National Institute of Health is full of useful information to make better decisions on alternative therapies and can be found at nccih.nih.gov.

Lastly, I would recommend looking at two two parts of the Healthfinder website. Using the guides provided there, it can give every patient a template for how to prepare and get the most out of their time with their own physician. The section called Take Charge of Your HealthCare provides a step by step guide to maximizing your use of the the healthcare system and you can find that here. My favorite part is the section on Talking With the Doctor. This has many common medical conditions and provides a series of questions that you should be sure to ask about each condition. These prompts can make a visit with your physician much more efficient and may propel you to better decision making with your physician. You can find that site here.

Record Breaking

Very happy to announce that this October, Digital Medicine and You has surpassed all of last years visitor metrics.  This website has had more visitors and more page views so far in 2018 than we had all of last year.  Very excited about this and thought I would share.  As always, love to hear any feedback or have conversations about Digital Health.

Inspiration from Healthcare Podcasts

       In healthcare it’s pretty easy to get stuck in a rut. Sometimes you find yourself doing the exact same things the exact same way every single day. Answering the same questions, doing the same procedures. You find yourself coming up against the same obstacles and feel like you’re beating your head against the same wall over and over.
       One way that I like to fight the rut is listening to digitalhealth and healthcare podcasts. I find it very inspirational to hear about leaders in healthcare who have found innovative and disruptive waves to make healthcare more accessible, more efficient and often with better experiences for patients and providers alike.  It’s always great to hear about the trials and obstacles that other people overcome.  When you yourself are struggling, it’s always nice to hear about the success that eventually happens with  hard work.
       Digital Health Today, The Digital Health Podcast and Relentless Health Value all have some of the best entrepreneurs and leaders in the field Digital Health and medicine.  Whether I’m in my car driving, on the treadmill or if I just need a little break from my day-to-day work, I am usually listening to one of those podcasts.  Check out these podcast and I would love to know about any other good ones you are listening to.
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Health App of the Month Will Be Back Next Month

“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.”

–William Penn

April is almost over and I still have not completed my review of the latest health app I have been using.  The Health App of the Month will be back and better than ever in May. Hopefully, with time, I will have more posts this summer on many Digital Health topics.  As always, if you have any comments, suggestions or ideas for the site, please let me know.

Digital Health – views from around the world

It has been one year and one month since I started this website that focuses on real world applications of digital health.  I have had a lot of fun creating a this site and creating an online conversation about digital health.

The most exciting aspect of the website has been to see all the different areas of the world I have visitors to my website.  This March has been my 3rd best month in terms of total views.  While the majority of the views come from the USA, I have also had visitors this month from Brazil, Serbia, India, Venezuala, Belgium, Jordan and Spain.

I would love to hear from anyone outside the US about what digital and mobile health looks like in your country.  Add a comment to this article, or email me at dranderson@drmatthewanderson.com or reach out on twitter @DrAnderson19.

If you think fake news is bad for politics, you should try being a physician

This is an article that was originally published on KevinMD.  

       Much of the discussion surrounding the presidential election this year focused on “fake news.”  There were countless stories in newspapers and on television news shows about these obviously biased and fictitious posts that might have affected the outcome of the election. I could not help thinking during this campaign season that if you think fake news is bad for politics, you should try being a physician.

       As physicians, we are on the front line in the fight against fake news and deal with the fall out on a regular basis.  This is nothing new, especially for Primary doctors like Family Physicians, Internists and Pediatricians who have to deal with volumes of fake news within the limited amount of time they actually have with a patient. 

       Physicians are always trying disprove fake news with patients.  We talk about the limited benefits of numerous vitamin supplements in the face of countless publications and marketing efforts that do not have to be evaluated by the FDA.  Red yeast rice is not equivalent to statins for preventing heart disease.  Gingko biloba will not treat dementia, no matter how organic or pure it is, no matter how many people write about its effectiveness. 

       A website recently touted the 25 beneficial uses of Apple Cider Vinegar.  This list included treatments for acne, bad breath, under arm and foot odor, to kill bacteria causing a sore throat, prevent diabetes, lower cholesterol, improve digestion and remove warts.  But wait there’s more! Apple Cider Vinegar can give you healthier hair, whiter teeth and even better tasting barbecue sauce.  This is in addition to its ability to be a nontoxic cleaner for your kitchen and a weed killer for your garden.  This is a list of pure conjecture passed off as facts, and people believe it.  Even the comments section of the article has readers saying “good to know.”

       I have had several patients tell me about all the health benefits of vanadyl sulfate.  Specifically, they have stopped their medications for diabetes because of everything they have read about vanadyl.  Each patient’s course plays out the same way: these patients research for information, completely buy in to this natural supplement, stop their medications and then their A1c goes up dramatically.  But “Americas most trusted wellness doctor” says it works and is willing to sell the supplements to you as well.

       The most egregious and widespread item of fake medical news involves vaccines.  From causing autism to inciting sexual behavior, decades of fake medical news about vaccines exist.  Many times doctors are seen as complicit in pushing this harm on people.  A quick look at twitter for #vaccines, and the news of vaccination harms is overwhelming.  

       The whole fake news complex plays on the vulnerabilities of those searching for the information in the first place, looking for what mainstream media or money-loving, golf-playing doctors won’t really tell you.  You are being held down or missing out on critical information – information someone else doesn’t want you to know.  If you can get this information, everything will be better — your life, your health, your economy, your country.

       As a physician, I try to be a steward of medical information.  I want my patients to seek out good quality medical information on their own.  I steer them to websites such as Mayoclinic.org or Webmd.com and gently dismiss information from sources I do not trust.

       So fake news may have negatively affected the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, but fake news affects every clinic and hospital in America every day.  This is not to say that political news is more or less important than medical information or that either is more susceptible to the “fake news” problem.  Inaccurate statements presented as facts should always be challenged, and the medical community has a unique and difficult responsibility to engage it.

February 2017 CDC Vaccine Schedules

cdc-opening-screenTitle: CDC Vaccine Schedules
What it is: A mobile app for all the CDC vaccine guidelines
What devices: Android and Apple devices
Cost: Free
Who should use it: Any healthcare provider or patient who wants to know more about CDC guidelines for vaccination
Why use it:  Vaccines are an effective and easy way to prevent disease and maintain healthy populations.  For many clinicians the source they use the most for vaccine schedules and information is the CDC website.  This CDC Vaccine Schedules app puts all the important information from the CDC website into a convenient mobile app.
    The information is broken down like most of the distributed vaccine information from the CDC.  The age categories include Birth to 5 years, Adolescents and Adults.  While looking at the graphics on a phone or tablet, turning your device horizontally allows for a broader appearance to the timetable.cdc-front-page
    There is also information on catch-up schedules for children, unique guidelines for pregnancy, immunocompromised patients and healthcare providers.  These are in separate listings on the front page of the app but there is also a lot of information available by tapping “note” from the vaccine schedule it self.
    Overall, this is a very easy to use reference from the CDC for all vaccination guidelines in the palm of your hand.