xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Doctors support patients doing online research but not in lieu of visit

Holmes
Holmes (By Christian Alexandersen Times Staff Writer , Carroll County Times)

With health information just a click away for many people, Carroll County doctors are encouraging their patients to use the Internet as a resource but not as the final word on medical advice and treatment.
Websites like WebMD give people a wealth of information on medications, disease symptoms, treatments and other areas relating to health and well-being. It's common for patients to bring information they found to their doctor visits.
Carroll doctors have varying opinions on how the information should be used and the role doctors play in teaching patients about using online sources.
Dr. Kharia Holmes, an internal medicine physician in Westminster, said she is a big supporter of people doing health research online. When someone does research online before a doctor appointment, she said the individuals are taking an active role in their well-being.
Holmes estimated that more than half of her patients tell her they do online medical research before coming to see her.
"When I have a patient that comes in that's looked at something like WebMD or looked on the Internet or at other sources, they come in with questions. And that's a great place for us to start," Holmes said. "That means they are active in participating in their health, they are inquisitive, they want to know and they want to learn. That's a good sign for me."
It's important to take time with patients to educate them on their health concerns and answer the questions they have from the Internet, Holmes said.
"They don't always admit it at first because they think I'm not going to be receptive," Holmes said.
Health and medical websites on the Internet can be very beneficial for patients looking for research on a particular medication or health concern, said Dr. G. Panisri Rao, a physician with Carroll Health Group Primary Care in Hampstead. Websites like WebMD provide a good resource for patients to use as a reference tool, she said.
Every month, Rao said she sees patients that visit her office after doing online research.
Aside from providing a reference for people, Rao said medical websites can even give someone a wake-up call about a health concern. Rao said receiving online information can serve as a stepping stone to get someone to visit a doctor and get checked out, instead of putting it off.
"[The online information] gets the wheels turning in their head, and I appreciate that," Rao said.
Holmes said she sometimes refers people to online sources for finding specific information on health support groups and health management. It's important to make sure patients use well-documented websites to get the best information available, she said.
Dr. Flavio Kruter, medical director of the Carroll Regional Cancer Center, said he frequently sees patients coming in with information from WebMD. The increasing trend of using online information for health can be both bad and good, he said.
"Sometimes people read information and they misinterpret it and get overly anxious about it," Kruter said. "Overall, though, self educating about healthy habits is always a plus."
As useful as medical websites can be, Rao said she recommends people still see a doctor. A doctor visit can clear up any questions and provide answers to questions about their specific concerns, she said.
"I'd prefer that they don't go to an online source, when they can easily see a doctor in person," Rao said. "Sometimes we won't have a definitive answer, but we'll certainly get to one at some point."

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement