In the information age, who do you trust for medical advice? Dr. Google can answer many of your questions in the time it takes you to type, click, and read. Everyone and their aunt is willing to share their experience with you on social media and in online forums. Your doctor is there to give you an official diagnosis and textbook treatment plan. They all have their pros and cons and it's exciting to think about how healthcare will be influenced by and evolve with the internet.
We don't know what we don't know
In the past century we have made leaps and bounds in medicine. We know more about the human body and its pathology than any generation before us. We can also compare this to what has worked in the past for our culture and in cultures around the world. On the other hand, if modern technology and the onset of the information age have taught us anything, it is that we are only scratching the surface of what there is to know. When one study reveals some new and exciting insight into the way things work, another study will come out a week later showing us that the previous study might not be telling us the whole story. No one has all the answers. We should use the same scrutiny for every source of medical information (don't believe something just because it's on the internet), be wary of those quick to offer a solution without knowing all of the pertinent details , and seek a second opinion when there might be other treatment options available. It is your responsibility to ask questions about the information being given to you and understand where it is coming from. When we achieve a healthcare system that proactively answers your questions and concerns and demonstrates its full credibility, then we'll know that we've truly evolved.
Collaborate and Communicate
Even though it takes a lot of energy to sort through and test the various ideas and theories out there, it is crucial that we create a community of collaboration and communication. I think that doctors should work together with alternative healers as a TEAM, because together everyone accomplishes more (wink!). Discoveries are rarely made in a vacuum; novel ideas are influenced by the environment around us and by what and who we encounter. Doctors needn't fear that they will lose their prestige or authority, instead they can focus on being better healers and teachers for their patients. Most any organization can benefit from improved communication, both internal and external, opening and strengthening the exchange of ideas and information and saving time and energy with effective communication.
Bedside Manner…not just for doctors.
While bedside manner isn't necessarily every doctor's strong suit, it's a skill that we could all stand to practice. It's disheartening to see how often online discussions quickly turn into heated debates ridden with criticism, judgment, and bad manners. I think there is a great opportunity to bring some old-fashioned manners to our new-fangled online social networks. My favorite places to share and seek support online are sites and groups where the rules are clearly laid out, rudeness is not tolerated, and positive vibes set the tone for discussion. It will take some time for everyone to recognize that they are interacting with real people, learn to listen, be supportive, and follow the golden rule in these new kinds of communities. And just like in real life, whenever you are not getting a good feeling from any discussion or online group, just click away and don't let it get to you.