The Internet has made it easy for consumers to access health care information and interact with health care providers and insurers. But with such easy access to so many resources comes a greater risk of listening to the wrong advice or going to the wrong provider.
For most people, the Internet is the go-to when they want to learn about personal health – the place to track down answers to their most pressing questions. What exactly is cholesterol? Could this cough be a symptom of H1N1? A simple search instantly returns an endless array of articles, studies, definitions and discussions.
But it could be a case of Google gone wrong. Links to thousands of health care resources all seem at the surface to hold the answers, but many of these websites may contain inaccurate or outdated information.
A good way to tell if a resource is credible is to consider who sponsors the website. For example, it’s probably best to think twice about advice on how to control high blood pressure from a company selling hypertension medication. More trustworthy sources might be websites for government or state health departments, health insurance companies, major health care facilities such as the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic or certain accredited commercial sites like WebMD.
The truth is, no matter how they use it, the Internet has made it possible for consumers to be more connected to health care. And as long as they’re smart about it, online resources can be an important, simple first step to making the most of online health care resources.
The Internet is a powerful tool that is reshaping health care every day. Consumers can and should take full advantage of everything it has to offer to become more informed, more involved and better equipped to make the right decisions for themselves and their families – they just have to think before they click.