According to a survey performed by Wolters Kluwer Health recently taken among more than 1,000 Americans over the age of 18, the majority of consumers trust health information that they receive online. In fact, 63 percent state that they have never misdiagnosed themselves when applying data from medical information on the web.

Almost half of Americans surveyed admit that they seek answers on the Internet to medical questions so that they will be better prepared about a medical condition prior to the actual doctor’s visit.

More people are turning to their computers for medical answers with 30 percent confirming that they “always” or “frequently” look to the internet for answers to their medical questions and 65% confidently claiming that they trust the information obtained.

Additional results from the study found:

  • Only 15% of those seeing health information admit to misdiagnosing themselves
  • 38% of those surveyed between 18 and 34 years of age claim “accessibility” as the justification for seeking information from the internet as opposed to their internist to diagnose a medical problem
  • 77% of those surveyed agree that they would discuss information gleaned from the internet with their doctor for diagnosis verification
  • 67% of Americans getting medical information online claim that the information has made them better informed as patients.

Fortunately, only 4% of consumers admit to suffering from “cyberchondria”, a new 21st century condition whereby individuals believe that they have contracted an illness or medical condition that they have read about online, despite being healthy.

The easier availability of medical information seems to be creating a “positive impact on the doctor-patient relationship “. Only 20% of physicians polled feel that patients researching their health information online has been harmful, leading to misinformation.

What seems rapidly becoming apparent is that patients and doctors need to be entering into a partnership.  The patients can glean information online but then it will become important to seek consultation and examination for evaluation and bring their questions with them so that they can be discussed and understood.  With this new comprehension, health and healthcare is bound to improve.

Do you seek your health information online?  Is this to be better informed, to use as a jumping off point for discussion with your doctor or to self-diagnose and treat yourself with alternative therapies?

Let’s hear from you!