I'm curious - are you open to internet info from patients?

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    I'm doing a lit review for grad school and am finding very little information (research) about physicians and mid-levels utilizing the internet for health information; I'm finding even less about physicians being open to discussing the information patients find online. As a practicing nurse practitioner, do you have trouble with this? Are patients bringing in bogus info, real data, or actual questions from information they've found online? Am I simply wrong in the assumption that because patients are out there looking online for health information that they're actually bringing this back to the providers? Thanks for your input! No - this is not scientific and to be included in my lit review - but I am curious, as this could be a rather interesting area of study for the future - or a good line of work of the nurse entrepreneurs out there! Anyone need a former search engine optimization specialist turned RN and FNP student to spruce up a web site? See what I'm getting at??? Too bad I didn't want to stick with that!
  2. 6 Comments so far...

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    I'm in school now studying to be an Adult NP. I worked in primary care for years prior to getting here, though, so I feel like I have some insight to share.

    Patients ARE bringing in things they've found on the Web and printed specifically to bring the doc/NP to ask about. The good news is, that means patients are interested and participating in making decisions about their own care. The bad news is, the information they bring it may be from a reliable source (peer-reviewed journal article publishing a randomized study) OR something from a pharmaceutical company or some hokey-pokey sort of thing "Cure Liver Cancer Through Special Breathing Techniques!"

    You can see where I'm going with this. When that happens, it seemed important to me that we explain something that is scientifically-based versus something that is trying to sell a product. I also tried to give reliable Website info to those who really wanted to do their research and learn more about a problem they might be having. We gave ou the address for MedLine Plus and also the Mayo Clinic sites since they would definitely do no harm.
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    I agree that it is a mixed bag when a patient brings in info from the internet. It shows that they are interested in participating in improving their health.

    For the most part I have found that the info they bring in is correct, although most of the time it is very incomplete. Usually it is from sites directed at patients so it usually does not tell the whole story or is so simplistic it is basically useless. Add to that the fact that they generally don't have the needed medical knowledge to interpret the info and it usually doesn't impact treatment in anyway. When it does impact treatment (which is relatively rare) more often causes problems rather than helping in a positive way for either the patient or provider.
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    I work with chronically ill (renal) pts and some of my pts are amazingly well-informed. We have an NP in the office who does a wonderful job with chronic kidney disease pts.

    I do get some internet info from some of my pts and I always look at it.

    I do discuss "grading the internet" as in: what is a reputable website and what is somebody's blog who has an axe to grind.
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    Do you find that your colleagues are aware of the information that is out there - good and bad? Do you encourage patients to check online? For example, I was told I was depressed for years - didn't believe it, thought it was something else. Finally asked to have my thyroid checked again - and my TSH was normal. Went online to find out more, and found out I should have my T3/T4 tested... sure enough, that was it - but my own NP wasn't happy that I questioned what she had / hadn't done. I wasn't sure if that meant an extra visit, or just being questioned... that's the only issue I've had with her, the rest of my visits have gone very well. But I still think - if I hadn't looked it up myself... how much longer would that have gone on?
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    I am not perfect by any means and don't mind being questioned by my pts.
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    Thank you so much for your input!


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