Oct 23, 2009

Are Modern Patients to Blame? (Friday Link)

Doctor D has made his triumphal return from his vacation and is back to working himself to death and blogging.

Today is Friday which means D delivers some exciting links for your weekend reading. Doctor D has an interesting radio piece for you:

National Public Radio did a piece about how educated patients who read about medical care on the internet are costing too much. Doctor D is so relieved! He had been told all along it was doctors who are bankrupting the country. Turns out it's you patients, who all have "medical student syndrome" and think you have every disease you read about. You even made that nice overworked doctor in Virginia cry!

It actually is an interesting use of 8 minutes:

So medical pages like this one are ruining the healthcare system! Too much information and you start demanding tests and treatments you don't need.

Doctor D's theory is that doctor blogs might actually be helpful with this problem. Instead of just giving info on diseases and treatments, medblogs actually give the perspective of healthcare providers. Hopefully patients who read heathcare provider blogs learn not just about diseases and treatments but the mindset of physicians, which includes understanding why over-testing and over-treating is not a wise choice.

Doctor Blogs could save the healthcare system billions! Hopefully the AskAnMD will get a generous government grant to underwrite Doctor D's important work!
So what do you think? Does being an educated, web-savvy patient make you cost the system more? Do you think reading Medblogs make your healthcare cost more or less?


Spark Star said...

Wikipedia and all provide much info, its good, But they get unnecessarily freaked out too.

Like after reading complications of drugs and complications of diseases, they get distressed for the remotest of them.
Cramming up information is one thing, understandin the practical aspects of an information is another. It takes some experience. So, Taking direct view of doctors is important.
More so, dey even luk at u wid doubt. Alleging you that you are not knowledgeable enough, how could you miss THIS out.

At least they should consult docs before ordering tests after tests. Yes, a lot is wasted cuz of hyperinformation.

Anonymous said...

As a patient I use the internet for information, partly because my doctors do have a limited amount of time to educate me about what I have. But then I've been finding that it's a really good thing to have a doctor I trust help me sort though that information so that I can put it in perspective too.


Anonymous said...

I am the sort of patient who wants the LEAST testing and treatment that my doctor considers reasonable. I am very happy with "watchful waiting" whenever possible, and I don't want to run up health care costs for my insurer. Having read in multiple medical blogs about the dangers of cumulative radiation from CT scans, I try to avoid them. My doctor insists on regular scans to monitor my condition, however, and has agreed to do MRIs instead of CT scans so that I can avoid the radiation. So I'm afraid that being better informed has, in this instance, made me a more expensive (and guilty feeling) patient.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Doctor D -

I tend to look for alternative/natural solutions first -- and I have found many (most?) doctors tend to go the pharmaceutical route first.

So, I always show up at my doctor's office with a wealth of information, then I add what I learn from my doctor to my stock, then I make a choice of what treatment I will use. Please note, it is I who makes the choice, not my doctor.

So, I can imagine this classifies me as a combative client -- which limits the number of doctors who will tolerate my stubbornness. But, that's fine -- when I find a doctor who will work with me, I usually stick with him or her for years and years and years.

- Marie (Coming Out of the Trees)

Helen said...

I do look for further information online, but generally only after a doctor has given me some guidance first. I don't look up symptoms because I'll just freak myself out and usually be wrong anyway. I have some great doctors who encourage me to do further research, and provide me with the tools to research effectively.

I did self-diagnose my pleurisy after my ICD surgery, but that was an easy one as everything I was experiencing, and all my risk factors, lined up with what I was reading. And in that case my self-diagnosis (confirmed a few days later by my doctor) made me feel much less anxious.

Anonymous said...

My doctor(s) has so little time she can spend with me, I'm truly grateful for the Internet and Google. I try not to "over-educate" myself or start worrying over symptoms, but of course, that's hard sometimes. I've had rheumatoid arthritis for more than 20 years. When I was first diagnosed, it was hard to find ANY detailed information, as a layman, about the disease. Now there's so much more. And I believe that info helps me to cope with and be proactive about the disease. I guess we just have to find a good balance and be pragmatic.

Moose said...

There is, in my unhumble opinion, a vast difference between the "I saw an ad about this drug..." or "I read an article in $mainstream-media/website about..." and an actually educated patient. The former are just plain scary -- people who actually believe the crap in magazines like $Gender Health and the myriad of nonsense websites out there.

As a diabetic who runs a mailing list for other diabetics I encourage participants to do BOTH their own research AND talk to their doctors. Don't believe an article because It Says It's So. Learn medicalese to read the actual research studies, if you can - because half the time, these days, the "Studies Show" headlines are press releases put out by sponsoring companies or organizations instead of the actual results. Learn what too many peer reviewed journals still can't seem to remember, things like "data mining is not a real study" and "correlation is not causation" (although both can be indicators that real studies should be done).

I used to go to a medical clinic that was also a family practice residency program for a local hospital. Getting new doctors before the newness wore off was always a delight. They, and other more experienced doctors I've had the privilege to work with, were all more than happy to have a patient who was informed and willing to work *with* them to find the right treatment plan.

Did my knowledge mean more money was spent? I doubt it. Just because I knew of things doesn't mean they all got implemented. And with diabetes sometimes more care today is the answer to less care later on -- prevention of complications is the key.

Nurse K said...

Suck It Up, America <<---Posted on every break room bulletin board in US ERs, but we're not allowed to tell it to patients

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