Internet Medical Research Done Right

(stock photo)

Sometimes readers email me with questions about where to find good, solid asthma information, and today I have two responses:

1. Check out the left sidebar for asthma, allergy, and other health organizations.
2. Go read the latest article in CNN’s Empowered Patient series, “Tips for savvy medical Web surfing.”

It lists some truly excellent tips for finding the best, most up-to-date and respected medical information on the Internet.

But….but….Asthma Mom, isn’t this the same series with the “Obnoxious Patient” article? The one that advised us to tread very, very carefully when bringing Internet research to our doctors?

Why, yes. Yes it is, and today’s installment even leads with an anecdote about a librarian who, along with a medical research specialist friend, sent some information they found to the librarian’s nephew’s doctor who was advocating the use of a very powerful but possibly deaf-inducing antibiotic to save the little boy’s life. And this doctor not only hadn’t considered using the antibiotic their research turned up but also implemented the suggestion and the kid healed just fine.

First of all, awesome doctor. Both for being open to the suggestion and actually using it.

Second, today’s lesson on ambitious research seems almost contradictory in light of the other article advising caution, but when I put the two together I come up with this:

Conduct impeccable research but don’t negate all your hard work by forcing the results on your doctors and demanding they read and follow them right there in the office. Beyond the information in the articles, let me repeat my own take from an earlier post. Doctors who won’t listen to a reasonable, polite request to consider a my input (and this includes research) isn’t worth the price of my co-payment. No, I’m not a medical professional or a medical researcher, but I’m not an idiot, either, and I respect those doctors who respect my informed opinion.

Plenty of times, I had an idea about AG’s asthma treatment based on online research or even other parents’ experiences, and her best doctors have been the ones who responded like this:

Sure, you can do it that way if it works for her. Especially since her lungs sound great.

Bear in mind, please: what I’m suggesting is always in the realm of what’s medically appropriate and possible and not a danger to her health. I’ve never, for example, gone in with the suggestion to forgo the inhalers and stick her on green tea and herbal supplements 10 times a day instead.

If you stay informed and only stick with doctors who are willing to listen to you, too, today’s Empowered Patient research tips can only help your case. Here’s the quick and easy version, of course, but please don’t skip the full article, if only for the valuable links:

1. Use search engines devoted to screened health information.

2. Read “smart” bloggers with the same illness who link to good resources. (clearly my favorite tip)

3. Always know who’s running the website so you can determine if they’re giving you good, unbiased information.

4. Go through the tutorials to help with the medical jargon.

5. Read an organization’s annual meeting notes to discover new research and treatments that haven’t hit the medical journals yet. (This idea never occurred to me, but I L-O-V-E it, don’t you?)

7 responses to “Internet Medical Research Done Right”

  1. Asthmagirl says:

    I had like no time yesterday.

    I love both the savvy research part and the smart blogger part. Both of these have made a huge difference in my overall treatment plan.

    I’m really skeptical of drug manuf. websites. They have those little questionaires about whether your asthma is under control. I think they really target the worriers and the newbies. I’m sure that’s excellent marketing. The only good thing about those sites is that they start sending you coupons for their products, which I used before I switched to the online pharmacy.

    Thanks for all the research you do!

  2. Amy says:

    I do wish blogs had been around when AG was very little and so severe. There’s no guarantee, but I think her health problems might have been easier to handle then.

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