"Patient informatics": creating new partnerships in medical decision making

S A Bader, R M Braude
Academic Medicine 1998, 73 (4): 408-11
The amassing of health information on the Internet and World Wide Web continues unabated. Patients anxious to participate in decisions about their own treatment have turned to the Internet to confirm diagnoses, validate physician-recommended treatment, or seek alternative therapies. While increased information for patients has been linked to improved outcomes, there are inherent dangers associated with the kind of unauthenticated information available on the Web. The authors discuss the nature of these dangers as well as review the advantages for patients of "information therapy" (improved access to health information). They also examine how the Internet has begun to affect the physician-patient relationship, and describe how the Internet and information technology can be effectively used by physicians in patient care. They recommend that the academic health sciences community seize the opportunity to take the lead in ensuring that patients have access to reliable health information, and suggest that "patient informatics" be integrated by academic physicians and educators into the teaching of clinical skills.

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