Between computers, tablets, smartphones, an app for this and app for that - we have a wealth of health information available to us - literally at our fingertips. Why sit, wait and wonder what your diagnosis could be if you could simply search the internet and try to figure it out on your own? It sounds like a no-brainer, right?
It might be hard to resist, but it’s important to remember that there is A LOT of information available - through many sources. Before you dig into web searching, keep a few things in mind...
If you’re searching for symptoms or health care terms in a search engine, select the links to reputable health care information websites. There are a lot of sites with user-written content, and sites where web users respond to questions posed by others on the web. This does not mean not that these sites are necessarily unreliable, however there is no guarantee that a qualified health care professional has provided the content - or that it has even been reviewed. To be safe, stick to the well-known sites with contributions from professionals. Many health providers themselves are also offering their tips & expertise on the web for all to learn from.
- Use sites or sources you can trust…
Looking for information on the benefits of aquatic therapy? Experiencing low back pain? Sources you can likely trust are websites and blogs written by physical therapists, orthopedic specialists & other provider groups in your area.
There is a good chance you will be overloaded with information, and maybe a little scared by what you read on the web. Take it with a grain of salt and bear in mind that your health care providers are highly educated, experienced, have many tools at their disposal - and also know your medical history! They will be able to give you the best insights regarding your particular case. Remember, one or two matched symptoms does not necessarily mean you have found your diagnosis!
- Take it with a grain of salt…
Rather than hopping onto the web determined to figure out what might be wrong with you, try to absorb the information and make use of it. Researching your symptoms and body systems can help you be prepared to communicate with & understand your provider as well as what is happening in your body - and why. You will then be able to discuss possible treatment options and make an informed decision having done some research on your own.
- Educate rather than self-diagnose…
Ever felt that you had not keyed your provider in on all that you had wanted to during your time with them? Communication is key! Think about it ahead of time to make the best of your visit - In your research on the web, think about how symptoms and sensations are described? What key terms are used? Use what you have learned to effectively relay what you are experiencing to your provider.
Colleen is currently pursuing a BS in Health Services Administration.