Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Searching Online for Health Information

Many Physicians nowadays are relying on Google to help them find information sources which help them diagnose or treat their most difficult cases. Its no surprise then that a large number of physicians feel that regularly accessing the Internet has helped improve their practice as well as patient care.

A study by Google released in November 2009, found that 86% of physicians use the Internet to gather health, medical or prescription drug information, and 71% said they start with a search engine. It further showed that 57% use search terms related to conditions, 36% use terms related to treatments and trials, and 33% look for branded medication.

A more recent survey by Wolters Kluwer Health found that two-thirds of physicians use Internet search engines such as Google and Yahoo to look for information related to the diagnosis and treatment of patients.

In this article we look at ways to locate Quality Health Information Online. We will look at the popular search engines and then list popular sites catering to different categories of Health Information.  

Search Engines:

A search engine is a system that searches the Web. Search Engines help users sort through the huge amounts of information on the Web to find what they are looking for. Users type-in words or phrases, and the search engine looks for those words or phrases in Web sites.
A broad search engine is not recommended to locate health information, but it is helpful to find specific websites which contain quality health information. Also, google and other search engines serve as a great starting point in case you forget the URL of a previously visited website.
  1. Google  http://www.google.com/
  2. Bing http://www.bing.com
  3. Yahoo http://www.yahoo.com
  4. Search within HonCode Certified Websites: http://www.hon.ch/HONsearch/Pro/hunt.html
Patient Health Information Sites:

Searching medical literature is important to get information on clinical terms, symptoms and treatment options. Patients frequently use websites to locate health information. This is a cause of concern for many physicians as a misinformed patient may end up being their biggest woe. 

As such it is important that physicians guide them in the direction of Websites with High quality and authentic information.  Here is a small list of such websites.
  1. MedlinePlus http://medlineplus.gov/
  2. Merck Manual: Home Edition for Patients http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/index.html
  3. Merck Manual: Online Medical Library for Professionals http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/index.html
  4. MedicineNet http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/hp.asp
  5. Mayo Clinic http://www.mayoclinic.com/health-information/
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/
Sites Specifically tailored to Medical Students
  1. Student Doctor Network: http://studentdoctor.net/
  2. E-Meducation http://www.e-meducation.org/
Sites which explain Medical Terms:
  1. MedTerms: http://www.medterms.com/script/main/hp.asp
  2. MedicalLexicon : http://www.medilexicon.com/

Websites which provide Information related to Medications:

The following websites contain information about  prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines which includes side effects, common dosages, drug-drug interactions, special precautions and more.
  1. MedlinePlus http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginformation.html
  2. DailyMed http://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/
  3. Drugs.com http://www.drugs.com/
  4. FDA Index to Drug Safety Information http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/PostmarketDrugSafetyInformationforPatientsandProviders/ucm111085.htm
Medical Journals and Articles
  1. PubMed http://pubmed.gov/
  2. PubMed Central http://pubmedcentral.nih.gov
  3. Medscape http://www.medscape.com/
  4. MdLinx http://mdlinx.com/
  5. Free Medical Journals http://www.freemedicaljournals.com
  6. JAMA http://jama.ama-assn.org
  7. New England Journal of Medicine http://content.nejm.org
  8. BioMed Central http://www.biomedcentral.com
In the next article we will look at techniques to help search the web more effectively so as to get better and faster results. In case you feel there are websites which should be included in the lists above which I have missed out, please feel free to mention them in the comments below or connect with me (@nrip) via twitter.

Link to the next article: Understanding Search Engines to Improve Your Searches

1 comments:

Jeanne Thompson said...

With a number of issues confronting the medical sector like rising operational costs, staffing issues, security as well as patient data concerns, to name a few, utilizing Web based EMR is one means to improve profits and overall performance.

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