To create and foster high patient engagement, every patient must be able acquire the 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.
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.
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.
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.
October 2017 Heads Up Concussion and Helmet Safety App
The other component of the Head Up app is a very in depth look at the information all parents, coaches and even healthcare providers need to know about head injuries and concussions. There is information on basic signs to look out for, both from an adult and child participants point of view. There are danger signs to review to see if emergency personnel need to be activated. There are great guidelines to follow to help those children who have had a concussion to help them return to school, succeed in school and eventually return to the plain sports. There are options to be linked directly to the CDC’s website for further information.
Overall this app is a must have for everyone involved in youth sports to be aware of the risks of head injuries, work on prevention and if needed, helped an injured athlete recover successfully.
Title: Simple Contacts
What it is: Mobile eye exam and contact purchasing app
What devices: iPhone and any internet connected computer
Cost: Free to download app, (contacts can be purchased through the app)
Who should use it: Anyone at least 18 years old who wears contacts, no recent changes in vision and no significant eye disorders
Why use it: For everyone out there that has tried to wear their contacts longer than recommended to stretch out their remaining supply of contacts, this app is for you. Simple Contacts is a mobile app that puts you in control of obtaining an eye exam and purchasing contacts on your schedule.
Simple Contacts turns your iPhone or computer into a personalized eye exam. Through the app, videos of your eyes are captured while looking up, down and to the side. Then the app directs you to set your phone 10 feet away from you, even giving you guidance on how far away you are. Using voice commands, the Simple Contacts app directs you to cover one eye and read letters on your phone, just like at a regular in person eye exam
The feedback on my exam was much faster than I expected. Honestly, I cheated the exam a little, not completely covering my eyes. Within a couple minutes of completing the exam I received a text from Simple Contacts stating that I needed to redo my eye exam. Specifically, the Simple Contacts system had identified my exam because “it didn’t detect that your eyes were covered properly.” I couldn’t fool the app and re-took the eye exam, this time completely covering my eyes as instructed.
Once your exam is complete, the videos are then sent securely to an Ophthalmologist for review. The next morning I received an email from the physician who reviewed my exam. She had recommended that with my significant myopia, that I really need a true retinal evaluation every year.
I was able to choose the exact style of daily contacts I already use and in 4 days, 6 months of contacts arrived in my mailbox. I never stepped foot in a healthcare institution.
To use Simple Contacts, you really need to have a set of contacts you feel are comfortable to just reorder. I would not recommend trying a different brand through this app.
This app does not replace a complete eye exam performed in person. For many people with certain medical conditions, they should always seek routine eye care. If you have glaucoma, diabetes, cataracts or any type of medical condition with ocular manifestations Simple Contacts is not something I would advise.
Overall, Simple contacts is easy to use and the convenience of the app is spectacular. You will never run out of contacts again.