According to Linda Peitzman, Chief Medical Officer at Wolters Kluwer Health:

“The prevalence of online resources and information in the healthcare industry has led to significant changes in how physicians and consumers alike research and access healthcare information and has even impacted how clinicians practice medicine.  Clinical decision support tools have changed the medical industry for the better in many areas, eliminating manual errors and measurably improving quality of care, but all resources are not created equal.  This is why it’s critical to always consider the source”.

As physicians implement electronic medical records in their office, a reliance will be deepening on information that the computer programs provides.  After entering physical findings and differential diagnoses, many of these programs are citing facts for consideration, whether it be the proper testing protocol, treatment options recommended or confirmation of the diagnoses.  Any problems with medications prescribed will be highlighted with possible drug interactions or allergies.

However, receiving online information is not restricted to the digitalized health programs alone.

While 68% of doctors cite professional journals as the primary resource for information, a survey conducted by Wolters Kluwer Health of more than 300 doctors in the United States revealed that physicians seek health information online with surfing from servers like Google and Yahoo as a common information source. Interestingly enough, unlike the public, doctors often modify a diagnosis based on online data that they have retrieved.  According to 63% of doctors  responding to the survey, an initial diagnosis has been altered depending on new data gleaned from online resources and computer support tools.

Further findings of the physician survey find:

  • 90% of doctors perceive the quality of medical care in their practice to be improved due to better online access to medical information and resources
  • Only one in 8 doctors feel that quality of care has been impeded by patient online access to medical information

The fact is that the more information that physicians have at their fingertips, the better the healthcare will be that they provide.  Additional information will allow for consideration of the whole picture and additional factors will  considered will make it easier to not only make a more correct diagnosis but also a better treatment plan.  And as patients, isn’t that what we all want?!