Healthcare is alive and well on the Internet. And the “Healthcare Internet’s Medicine Man” came to town last month to prove it.
Instead of a suitcase full of magical elixirs, Dr. George Lundberg, M.D., founding Editor-in-Chief of Medscape, the world’s leading Internet site for health and medical information, brought wit and keen insight into the state of the cyber medical world.
Dr. Lundberg’s belief in the power of the Internet is solid. When the AMA launched its version of the medical Internet in 1995, Lundberg called it the future and the present. Today, he refers to the Internet as “the most important advancement since the printing press.”
But, “You cannot regulate the Internet… it’s like trying to regulate speech in a bar in Montreal.” Dr. Lundberg suggests that the medical Internet be self-governed by the principles of medical ethics, “do the right thing for patients.”
The number of individuals searching for healthcare information last year exceeded the number of people searching for pornography. In just two years, Internet users looking for medical information jumped from 50 million to 100 million. Explaining that the data showed more women than men using the Internet for medical information, Lundberg observed, “they arrive at their doctor’s appointment with a printout and leave with a lower opinion of their doctor.”
Since 1995, Internet use by medical professionals grew from 3% to 80%. The research shows they’re looking for disease and drug information, medical association news, medical and university sites, and online CMEs. Lundberg’s example “… in 1999 Medscape was doing about 100 hours a month of category one CME… in September 2001 that figure jumped to 17,000.”
So, how do you get a doctor to visit your Web site? Make sure the site answers key physician requirements: Does it save my time? Does it work as advertised? Does it have a trusted quality stamp? Will it strengthen my power position? Will it help me meet a mandated requirement from a crediting agency or the government? And most importantly, is it free? According to Lundberg, the freer the better.
Dr. Lundberg’s vision is of a new world made better by information. But he did remind us that, “a delusion shared by many is a culture, shared by some is a cult, held by two is love, and held by one is psychosis.”
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By Rich Hammond
Freelance Writer, www.richhammond.com
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