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Net Reception
From AMA News 10/11/99
By Larry Stevens, AMNews correspondent. Oct. 11, 1999.

Patients are bringing you health information they found online. They won't let you just ignore that. So what do you do?

Prashant Deshpande, MD, is noticing the parents of his patients aren't turning only to him for medical advice. It's only a minority now, but increasingly the Palos Park, Ill., pediatrician is confronted with information from the Internet.

Although statistics vary, it's pretty certain that at least half of all Internet surfers use that medium to research health care topics. Nothing wrong with research, of course. But the Net is topeer-reviewed journals what the Wild West was to conservative old Philadelphia: It's a place where the best and worst in information co-exist, and it isn't always easy to tell them apart.

This is not to say that even respected consumer publications don't report medical news incorrectly on occasion. But the Net provides surfers with large mounds of information. And doctors worry patients may use spurious information to back up demands that the doctor alter a treatment plan.

But Dr. Deshpande says there's no point fighting the online tide. "The Internet isn't going away."

So Dr. Deshpande has come up with a strategy that tests the validity of the information parents of his patients bring to his office, yet he does so in a way that doesn't make them think he's just out to prove them wrong.

Like it or not, physicians living in the information age will have to learn how to deal with patients armed with information from the Internet. With more than 15,000 sites, there is plenty of information to look at when the doctor isn't around... Continued at www.ama-assn.org/sci-pubs/amnews/pick_99/biza1011.htm

Published in The Ferguson Report, AMA News Story, October 1999


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