Science & Tech

Information Age will change doctors’ role in healing

1 min read

More patients getting health care information from Internet

Even as the Internet allows patients access to information previously only available through their doctors, patients still trust the information they get from their doctors more than they do from Web sites, current surveys suggest. Because of this, doctors may fill the role of advisers or consultants, helping patients not only sort through the information that is available, but make rational decisions based on that information. Writing in the Milbank Quarterly, Professor of Medicine David Blumenthal explains that with an increasing number of patients having access to an increasing amount of health information through the Internet, doctors are losing their place in society as the exclusive source of medical knowledge. This trend has the potential, at a minimum, to greatly reduce the current imbalance in competence between doctors and laypersons, possibly resulting in a de-professionalization of medicine. “Supported by humanity’s need for a healing class and by physicians’ genuine technical competence, the [medical] profession will survive,” says Blumenthal, of Massachusetts General Hospital. “However, the work it does will likely change somewhat, as will its role in society and the relationships between doctors and patients.”