The Doctor Will Google You Now

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Is the internet taking the mystery out of medicine? Although access to healthcare hasn’t improved, access to medical information has. As a result, patients are now spending more time at PubMed than the neighborhood saloon. The effect is sobering to physicians who had enjoyed a centuries old monopoly on medspeak. Docs may have been knocked from their pedestals but they aren’t down for the count. They too are basking in the benefits of cyberspace. The inspired diagnosis is only a Blackberry away.

[Confirmed in Studio]
Thomas H. Lee, MD
CEO of Partners Community HealthCare, Inc. an internist and cardiologist, Lee is an associate editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, and editor-in-chief of TheHarvard Heart Letter.
From Chelsea’s pre-interview notes
There’s this huge explosion of knowledge, combine that with the emergence of the Internet as this amazing searching tool– well it’s transforming medicine. When I was a med student the idea was that you could be a great Dr. if you could just learn everything, which theoretically seemed possible when everything you needed to know was all contained in a medical library, in the stacks, in that one building. Now there are just so many choices; if a patient says she has a burning sensation when she urinates there are now five, six possibilities for me to consider. I google all the time. Instead of being a source of knowledge students are now leaning how to learn. We’re relying on “just-in-time” learning tactics. We’re having to come to terms with the fact that we aren’t these all-knowing healers. Instead we better be all-caring.
[Confirmed on Phone]
Susan Love, MD
Dr. Susan Love is a pioneer of the medical internet; she’s one of the first doctors to launch a website that not only contained hundreds of pages of information, but also hosted chats and webcasts and enabled breast cancer survivors to converse with experts by email.

Susan Love is President and Medical Director of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation in Pacific Palisades, CA, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting research on earlier detection of breast cancer. She is a Clinical Professor of Surgery, The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and founder and senior partner in LLuminari, a multimedia women’s health company.

She is also author of Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book, now in its third edition, and Dr. Susan Love’s Menopause and Hormone Book (second edition January, 2003).

[Confirmed in Studio]
Deborah Wexler, MD
Deborah Wexler is chief resident in internal medicine and fellow in endocrinology at MGH.
From Chelsea’s pre-interview notes
Every single day residents are looking things up on the web. Unlike physicians from earlier generations we have no qualms about looking things up in front of our patients. That’s just how medicine is. The internet can allow us to streamline care, for instance I can email patients and I can electronically communicate with their primary care physicians about the kind of medicine I’ve perscribed, etc. The downside to this is that it is very time consuming to do all of this administrative work. This is time that doctors do not get compensated for. How has technology changed medicine? The pace and intensity has changed so much. People use to hang around in hospitals for three weeks, these days you’re usualy out of there the next day. This is stressful for both patients and doctors. A friend of mine who is about to have a baby was looking for the best hospital. I did some research and decided on a hospital that had the most advanced electronic media system. Up-to-date medical records allow for checks in the system—this is now how you’re going to get the best care.

Calling all patients. We want to hear from you. Have you diagnosed yourself on line? Do you correspond with your doctor via email? Do you check your records via the net? How do you feel about your doctor googling you? Is it reassuring to know that he/she is getting the most up-to-date information or is it shaking your confidence in your doctor and the practice of medicine as we know it? Call in during our live broadcast, Tueday, May 31, 7:00-8:00 PM.

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