Improving Patient-Physician Communication about Internet Use: Why ďDonít Ask, Donít TellĒ Doesnít Work

December 10, 2009
2:50 pm - 4:00 pm
Halligan 111
Speaker: Lisa Gualtieri, Tufts University School of Medicine

Abstract

Too little attention is paid to improving how patients locate and use health Web sites and communicate about their Web site use with their physicians. The very people who can best help patients, their medical providers, become disconnected from these so-called empowered healthcare consumers, who use the Internet instead of, before, or after consultations with their physicians without it being discussed or integrated into their care.

Poor health outcomes and an erosion of trust can occur when patients have unexpressed concerns arising from the Web sites they have accessed, donít believe their physician when a diagnosis or treatment plan differs from what they obtained from the Internet, use their doctor for a second opinion without disclosing that they obtained their first online, make poor decisions without or disregarding medical input, or scour the Internet for miracle cures.

Better patient-physician communication about Internet use and better health Web sites are needed to help patients become truly empowered healthcare consumers.

Bio: Lisa Neal Gualtieri is Adjunct Clinical Professor in the Health Communication Program in the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine, where she teaches Online Consumer Health and Web Strategies for Health Communication, http://webstrategiesforhealth.com/. Lisa holds a PhD in Computer Science from Harvard University. Her Web site is at http://lisagualtieri.com/.