Have you ever seen those futuristic films where doctors and nurses can cure seemingly everything? All they need to do is push a few buttons on a machine and you’re good to go. It sounds like an absolute dream, but we’re still far from achieving something so grand and simple to use. Luckily, there are always innovations in every industry and the healthcare one is no exception.
Recently, we’ve begun to see a massive shift from regular healthcare services to digital ones. While we’re not yet curing illnesses at the push of a button, we are seeing more convenience in our healthcare systems and, thanks to the internet, we’re being empowered with knowledge that was once withheld from us because we weren’t qualified to understand it.
But does the digital healthcare revolution mark an important and positive point in history, or is it a concern that we should be worried about? In this article, we’ll be discussing some of the biggest points and concerns that people should have about digital healthcare.
Information is available to everyone
The internet has become an open platform for sharing information. Want to learn about an illness? A quick Google search will reveal thousands, if not millions of results regarding a condition that you typed in and will quickly give you information on it. Most of this information isn’t exactly useful for the average person because it will be full of medical terms and chemical or biological jargon, but there are plenty of sites that can empower you with the knowledge you need to better understand your personal situation.
This information is available to everyone which means that there is no barrier to entry. Whether you’re a med student or just an average person that wants to know what the medicine they’re taking does, the internet can give you access to all of this information and more without you needing to pay a single penny.
In terms of a healthcare revolution, the wealth of information available to us nowadays can help us tremendously. It helps us gain peace of mind and it can also help us better understand the types of conditions we are going through. For most people, this is a positive thing that can have no benefits, but there is something that needs to be considered before you go around trusting everything these sites say.
But that doesn’t mean it’s always true
Let’s face it, unless you can confirm that the information you’re reading is written by a specialist or a doctor, there’s a good chance it could all be made up. In fact, places like Wikipedia are often seen as the go-to source for reliable information, but it’s important to remember that most of that information can be edited and written by people that don’t need to prove their history in medicine.
In addition to that, just because a website looks official or seems to be trustworthy, that doesn’t mean it actually is. You can easily fake information on the internet and if you read about your condition and misdiagnose yourself, it could easily lead to further issues such as taking the wrong medicine or becoming depressed or anxious that you have a troublesome condition when in reality it’s something easily curable.
So to conclude this small section, make sure you take everything you read with a grain of salt. Whether it’s information on Wikipedia or even a scholarly article from a respectable university, it’s always important to keep an eye on the correct sources of information instead of just believing everything you say.
Sources of information that you can trust
And speaking of the correct sources of information, let’s go through a few simple rules on what you should and shouldn’t believe. Firstly, any kind of technical document or article from a respectable research company should be considered trustworthy. You can focus your efforts to learn more information about complicated diseases and conditions if you wish to, but make sure the sources are honest and respectable. If the source you’re reading from is a medical journal, then keep in mind that the results can be heavily biased unless otherwise explicitly stated.
An example of a place you want to avoid for medical advice is any news website. These news websites often have their own agendas and write articles to be sensational instead of informative. You’ve probably seen plenty of clickbait articles that go along the lines of “you won’t believe this x secret that y people are doing to cure z!”. These articles usually prey on your search information and history to try and appeal to you. In other words, if it sounds too good to be true or incredibly basic and on a strange website, then avoid it.
Some considerations to keep in mind
As you can see, although we have great access to digital healthcare services and a wealth of information, it also means that we’re prone to misinformation and lies being spread. Digital healthcare can also extend to services such as seeing a doctor online or having someone diagnose you with a few simple questions. While these services are convenient and there’s a wealth of information available on the internet, nothing beats getting professional help in-person at a hospital or a medical centre.
Taking care of your health is no doubt important, but there’s a limit to how much you can do on your own. There are many dangers in self-diagnosing yourself and it’s sometimes tempting to do so given the wealth of information made available online. However, you’re not a doctor and no amount of information you read on the internet can prepare you for the reality of medicine. Everyone reacts differently to various treatments and medication and you can’t trust every word you see on the internet. Although looking online to check your symptoms and potential home treatments can be beneficial, it’s not a replacement to see an expert healthcare provider.