In this day and age, many of us start with an online search when we get sick. Dr. Google becomes our go-to when it comes to figuring out what is wrong. We asked some physicians to share what their take on Dr. Google was and here is what they had to say…..
Nicole Van Groningen, Internal Medicine Physician
“It’s a double-edged sword. On one hand, patients who take the time to Google their symptoms are clearly engaged in their care and well-being. They can usually articulate how they’re feeling, provide detailed time courses for their symptoms, and are well aware of any existing medical problems. This makes obtaining a medical history easy for physicians, who often struggle to piece together the stories told by patients who are less engaged and can’t provide this kind of detailed background. The most important clue in understanding what is wrong with a patient is the story they tell – so if a doctor can’t understand the story, her job becomes dramatically more difficult.
But patients who spend time researching their symptoms on the internet often self-diagnose and come in to the office with requests for particular therapies. Sometimes, their assessments of their disease and the treatments they propose are spot-on. But more commonly, they’ve been led astray by something they read on the internet, and in this case, it can be challenging to convince them to partner with you (the physician) and take a different, more scientific approach. The internet makes high-quality health information accessible to billions of people, but low-quality health information from non-doctors and non-scientists is even more abundant. If you Google virtually any disease, you will find people and organizations – often with shaky or nonexistent credentials – who promote non evidence-based interventions that may do more harm than good.”
Imteaz A Khan, Physician
“Dr. Google is irritating as the knowledge acquired by the patient in 2 hours of googling cannot be a match to countless hours spent in training and in the hospital. I have noticed many patients aren’t ready to accept my diagnosis as it didn’t match what Dr. Google said.”
Narendra Bansal, Retired Urologist
“The current generation of physicians don’t mind at all about patients doing their homework online. This is the new reality of empowerment due to advancing technology and the easy accessibility. Physicians are getting used to this new paradigm of healthcare. A well-informed patient is helpful in the overall management of the disease process and after care. They have a better appreciation of the complexity of a disease. There are, however, always exceptions. Superficial/incomplete knowledge can be dangerous or frightening to a patient. Hopefully an honest dialogue with their physician will allay any concerns and anxiety.