Doctors can improve the Internet. Doctors could be creating more web sites that provide good, credible health information, or content, to educate the public. There is a paucity of reliable “experts” writing on health. The timing is perfect for docs to become more involved.
Too few doctors really use the Internet to engage patients. There is the mistaken belief that by doing so we may breach patient confidentiality or that we may be liable for advice we give.
So stop playing doctor. Use the Internet to inform, to educate. Leave the advice and treatment plans in the office; where it belongs.
We all know that good, reliable health information is hard to find on the Internet. There are lots of web pages out there, but most are written by “perceived” experts. Perceived experts are those that have taken the time to create content, but it isn’t necessarily good content. Many times perceived experts are actually trying to sell a product; vitamins and diet plans are good examples.
Doctors, however, are the authority figures. They are the experts and along with “authority” comes credibility. Docs use this authority in the office everyday seeing patients. This same authority could be used on the Internet to create more accurate and relevant health content.
If docs are able to serve as primary resources of information, the health information on the web gets better.
What am I talking about? I am not talking about offering medical advice over the Internet. I am not talking about forming a relationship with a patient online via email or FaceBook. That would take too much time and would be wrong.
I am; however, interested in getting more docs to publish information about health – for the sole purpose of educating. For instance, on this web site I educate about two retinal diseases; diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration. I have written quite a few articles about the diseases and provide information so others can learn. I have chosen to share my knowledge. In contrast, I am NOT offering medical advice nor offering treatments or recommendations per se.
As they used to say on Dragnet, ” Just the facts, maam.”
What Does This Mean? A doctor’s expertise is broken into several parts. One part of expertise is knowledge and I am advocating that more docs share their knowledge.
Docs like to participate in speaking engagements all the time. There is not much difference between giving a lecture and preparing content for the web. In fact, content for the web can be in many formats; including Power Point.
My point is that docs to this same sort of “soft” marketing and lecturing already. There really is no difference between giving a lecture and preparing content for the web. It’s stuff we know and are sharing.
Another facet of “expertise” is experience. Doctors distinguish themselves by their experience, not necessarily their knowledge. Knowledge without experience is useless. A doctor can NOT use his experience over the Internet.
A doctor’s experience does not exist on the web, but his knowledge certainly could.