Do no harm
Problem: majority of patient if their life is not in immediate danger have rather low level of compliance when it comes to doctor’s orders. At best an average patient will not complete prescribed therapy in full. Moreover, majority of patients nowadays consult Goggle as a primary care physician and ask for “second opinion” seconds after leaving the doctors office. The number of health-related searches are staggering.
In majority of cases these inquiries are the result of two factors: first - the doctors simply don’t have time to explain much about your condition and prescribed therapy, there are other patients in line, and second – when doctors do try to explain you what you’ve got and what to do it is hard to understand them and to remember 5 minutes later what was said.
The main issue with Google being the provider of a second opinion lies in the swarms of unreliable and sometimes harmful information that you get. Some countries did attempt to verify and certify websites that provide medical information but in what we’ve seen so far, the owners of the sites have to initiate the process of certification and some experts have to review the site after that and give some kind of a sticker to be displayed on a website. However, the meaning of this certification is known only to a small group of people and the wider population is not aware that they need to look for this sticker that deem content trustworthy.
In some countries due to the way insurance is setup patients are not as subjected to self-medicating as in other, since if the drug is not prescribed insurance will not cover it, however, adherence to the prescribed therapy is still quite an issue and need for additional but reliable information that will help to understand what is happening and what to do still quite a challenge.
Adherence is buzz word nowadays for pharmaceuticals, healthcare administrators, insurances, healthcare providers, because these stakeholders lose money and/or reputation if a patient does not don’t buy as much medicine as prescribed, the therapy is less effective thus a patient gets sick again etc.
Challenge: There has been some research done around adherence to therapy issue which showed (to some extent) that when a patient had a very clear image and understanding of what a diagnosis means, what happens in the body and how the prescribed medication helps, the level of adherence increases significantly.
Thus, the challenge is to find a way to provide patients with trustworthy clearly explained information about their situation and prescribed therapy, increase their adherence and prevent self-medication.
There might be other ways to influence patient’s behavior other than giving them understanding of what is happening and we will be happy to hear alternative approaches.
Some information and resources that might be helpful: