It is becoming increasingly common for patients to walk into their doctor’s office armed with a wealth of information concerning their symptoms and the incredibly broad range of potential health issues associated with those symptoms. On the whole, this is a positive development for both the medical profession and the patients it is charged with treating. According to Andrew Charlton, there appears to be at least a correlative relationship between patient education and positive health outcomes. With this in mind, doctors can take several steps to ensure patients have access to the best and most accurate information available.
The wealth of information available to patients is not without its drawbacks, of course. One of the first steps a doctor can take is to help the patient understand the need to consider the reliability of the source providing the information. As Charlton has said, there are many parties willing to mislead others for the sake of their own economic interests. The goal should be for the patient to utilize trusted sources known for providing completely objective medical information. After all, there are insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies that benefit from providing information to patients that is slanted in a way that leads to a specifically desired outcome.
It is important to note that while patients who take the time to educate themselves tend to enjoy better health outcomes, it nonetheless remains critical for the patient to build a strong relationship with their doctor based on mutual trust and respect. It is indeed valuable for patients to engage in continuing self-education, but it is and always should be the role of the doctor to diagnose the issue and to develop the most ideal course of treatment based on that diagnosis. Patients who follow the guidance of their doctor and maintain an open line of communication are simply more likely to enjoy continued health and wellness.