The “Internet of Things” democratized access to information for the world at large. Equally, actual information – both good and bad – is democratized, misinforming patients about medical data and diagnosis. Some doctors find themselves in a competition with Dr. Google for their patients’ health information needs. But what many perceive to be a nuisance, is a positive for physicians in private practice.
Dr. Google Creates Engaged Patients
In the practice of yesteryear, the doctor held a paternal position, telling the patient what to do. The patient was more or less passive in that endeavor, listening and either following the plan or not. Today, a patient will diagnose himself with cancer after checking off some symptoms on his favorite medical information site. Unwinding self-diagnosis is a pain, but your patient is concerned about his health, and willing to follow a plan.
In the information age, we indulge our curiosities when it comes to any matter, especially health concerns. In fact, in 2014 72% of people turned to the internet to look up a health-related matter, and of those health information seekers, 46% of them made a doctor’s appointment based on the information they found. No more ignoring minor symptoms. Patients are alerted to seek medical attention for serious ailments earlier than in years past. And though they jump to conclusions initially, the symptoms are addressed in a new light by the healthcare provider.
For nearly every person who looks up symptoms and makes an appointment with his doctor, there is another who decides potentially serious symptoms are no big deal or that he can treat those symptoms himself. That’s okay. That person is much less likely to follow any kind of health plan that doctor prescribes anyway. On the other extreme are those convinced that bouts of slight dizziness will surely result in imminent death, and will seek 3rd, 4th and 5th opinions until they are actually tested for whatever it is they want examined. That’s okay, too. You want patients who will partner with you in the management of their health, and Dr. Google will weed out those who don’t.
How to Respond to Information Overload
When patients are actively engaged in their health, physicians must be just as engaged. If someone comes in worried that a symptom she is experiencing will undoubtedly have the worst outcome, that’s the moment to find out what the real root fear is, and how to bring some solace. Doctors who take the time to engage their patients and truly listen to what’s going on, will forge life-long partnerships with those patients, and establish a trusted reputation in their communities.
Unfortunately, with all the modern demands on a doctor’s time, engaging patients poses a real challenge. In fact, it’s estimated that as much as 50% of the time allotted to a doctor’s appointment is spent clicking through the EMR. At the end of the day, you became a doctor to help people, and not to conduct data entry. Every practice would benefit from more of a human touch with its patients. Our speech recognition and transcription solutions are designed to give you more time with your patients, and to help you compete with Dr. Google. Find out how M*Modal can help your practice create time to care, so that you’re doing less clicking and a lot more listening.