I hope you enjoyed the holidays and have had a fresh start to the new year.
Now that it is nearly the end of January, I wonder: have you set wellness resolutions and health goals for 2024? Are you struggling to achieve those health goals or stick to those wellness resolutions? Are you surfing the internet for help? Are you falling down the rabbit hole in your search for a leg up in reaching your goals and resolutions? If so, you are not alone.
The internet has created a shift in patient care. Consumers can now gather health-related information for themselves and come primed to the healthcare encounter with a level of knowledge not seen by previous generations of physicians. In some ways, this is healthy empowerment for patients who have long felt a lack of control over their care. And it is indeed helpful when patients have a general understanding of their condition/s as it can facilitate the conversation and encourage compliance with the plan of care.
Yet, in other ways, access to online health information has undermined the doctor-patient relationship. Patients now come to the encounter prepared to lead their care in a direction that may not be in their best interest according to science. This is partly because the information on the internet is not monitored for accuracy. This is especially evident in the “blogosphere,” where influencers shell out health advice without a background, education or training in their subject matter.
There are several ways to determine if the medical advice you’re reading is sound. One of the greatest tip-offs to inaccurate or misleading information relates to your wallet. If the sale of supplements, services, subscriptions—or anything—comes along with the purported medical advice, think twice.
Here are a few additional questions to ask yourself before believing what you read:
• Does the sponsor of the information have relevant credentials in that topic?
• Do they provide references to back up their claims?
• What do they have to gain with your buy in?
There was a time when we could say traditional media sources (newspaper, radio, TV) were OK. That is rapidly shifting in an era of “advertorials” and “infomercials.” Two health-related sites that are conservatively OK are the NIH and WebMD. However, even that content can be taken out of context, misconstrued or simply not applicable to you, as the context of your whole health history is not considered in those articles.
One of the wonderful benefits of concierge medicine is the time we can spend together which is often not available in other settings. Send me an email with your health goals and wellness resolutions. If you have already combed the internet and have found information you would like me to vet, include it in the email. Then schedule an appointment. I will come to our encounter prepared to understand what you need during that visit, and we can have a dialogue about your questions or interest.
You may also wish to consider participating in Motivated Mondays, which is a reputable source of information for many of your typical wellness resolutions. Contact your Motivated Mondays coach, Michele McCambridge, MPH, to participate.
Cheers to your best health in 2024.