Our entire structure of traditional medicine has been based on the assumption that physicians have the most current information, and the patient doesnt. Now, with the explosion of information on the web, a patient can gain access to the same information, investigate case histories, explore whats going on overseas, and research all kinds of healing modalities from heroic surgeries to crystal healing. And, they can do so in the privacy of their homes without fear of censure, weighing the validity of different sources of information and decide the importance of each.
This capability is dramatically changing (and for the good I might add) the way in which patients view themselves and their healing journey in relation to their physicians. "The amount of knowledge available to a computer-literate patient has no precedent anywhere in the history of religion, education, or medicine" says Tom Ferguson, research fellow at Harvard Medical Schools Center for Clinical Computing.
Bonnie OConnor, another researcher and professor at The Pennsylvania Medical College states "Its very clear that the use of computerized information is increasing, and patient confidence along with it." OConnor has done extensive research into the use of complimentary/alternative therapies and sees a shift in patient attitudes from one of dependency to self-determined. She says "In a sense it has reversed the old role of the physician saying, I dont know anything about these herbs and I dont think you should take them- to the patient saying dont worry, you dont have to know about them. I am well-informed about them so Ill handle that part."
Innovative caring physicians welcome the well-informed patient with their questions. Good medical care should be a partnership between patient and physician. No one person (patient or physician) can or does have all the answers. Never again should the inherent instinctual wisdom of the individual or their ability to read and self educate be dismissed in seeking treatment.
One very enlightened physician commenting on his own feelings about the information explosion on the Internet stated "Ive been out there in the trenches for 20 years and I know how my colleagues think. We have got our heels dug in, unwilling to change at a time when the train has already pulled out. We can get on it or not, but this is grass roots driven and the culture is going to leave us behind if we dont."
Physicians for the most part are caring individuals, who set out to help others. Its up to us to let them know we want to be informed. You can help shape the quality of your life even in times when things have gone seriously wrong and it seems as though you have little or no control. Dont be afraid to ask questions. I think you might be surprised how relieved your doctor might be to find you are willing to take some of the responsibility for your health and well being. If you find your doctor is unwilling to answer your questions and you feel he is not your partner in your health care dont be hasty, get a second or third opinion if necessary and that makes you feel better. But, bottom line you hired the doctor, you can fire the doctor. Till next time, Rebecca.