Healthcare News & Insights

Docs approve of online health tools

As we reported earlier, patients want to be to given access to their own electronic records. Here’s another way patients want to get more involved in their own care. 

healthcare it trendsPatients can use online tools to help diagnose problems and conditions.

With plenty of websites, mobile health apps and other services popping up, people are becoming more interested in doing their own research about medical conditions. In a survey from last December conducted by Philips North America, 41% of Americans said they were comfortable using websites to help perform a self-diagnosis.

Many people have seen positive results from those tools. In fact, 11% of respondents said they believe health websites save lives.

Health tools get doctors’ approval

Some doctors may be concerned about people turning to the Internet for help with medical issues. One potential downside: There may be a risk that a patient will use those tools in lieu of a doctor’s visit. Or, patients may get needlessly worried by something they read before they come for an appointment.

However, doctors are becoming happier with the idea of their patients performing that additional research on their own, according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal.

According to the report, some practices are even adding links to those services on their webpages and actively encouraging patients to use them.

Of course, a doctors’ expertise is still necessary, but many providers report that patient visits are more efficient when people do their own research beforehand. Online tools can also help people when they experience problems outside of a doctor’s normal hours, and they might help avoid some unnecessary ER visits.

Offer guidance

One thing to keep in mind: There are a lot of sites and apps out there, and some are more useful than others.

As the Philips survey shows, patients are likely already using those online tools, and more will probably start doing so in the future. Doctors can help make sure the best resources are being used by getting familiar with what’s out there and steering patients in the right direction.

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