For technophile physicians, Dr. Roni Zeiger has one of the greatest jobs in the world, working for Google on health care related technology. Dr. Zeiger shares his thoughts on medical search engines and how Google is working on helping keep patients empowered and informed.
Many patients are comfortable letting their doctors worry about these questions for them. But I think patients get better care when they are more informed about generally accepted standards of care, and know more when talking to their doctors. Of course, I don’t recommend that patients treat themselves. They can’t simply do searches on the Internet, self-diagnose and treat. While there is an endless amount of information available online, it’s difficult to know what is quality information and what is not. Patients need to see their doctors to get the right medical care. But better-informed patients recover faster, manage chronic illnesses better and may even avoid some illnesses altogether. And patients should feel in control of their situation.
I was recently reminded of these issues when I was hospitalized. I wanted to know more about the best treatment options for my situation, so I called a few doctor friends and got all the information I needed. Because of that, I think I recovered faster, and I certainly felt better as a more active participant in my own care. But most people don’t have this kind of access to medical expertise.
I believe patients should also have access to these kinds of systems so that they can help make sure they are getting the best care. If you search online to learn more about diabetes, it should be easy to find out what the generally recommended treatments and tests are.
Now I’m part of the team here working on health and we’re trying to do something about this problem. Adam Bosworth, who is leading our team, has alluded to this in previous posts such as this one as well as in some speeches he has made at healthcare conferences.
When I help my loved ones navigate an illness or get up to date with screening tests, I wonder how those who don’t have a doctor in the family manage their health. When a patient comes to see me with a pretty good understanding of their treatment options, I find that refreshing. But really, I wish it were just easier for patients to get the information they’re looking for. While we don’t expect to develop the perfect solution, I hope that some day we’ll be able to offer something that is a step in the right direction.
Read the full story at Google’s Official Blog…