By Anita Devasahayam
THE Internet has given rise to an empowered and better-informed citizenry
and never more so is this apparent as in a subject as personal and affecting
By all accounts, the proliferation of medical Web sites has enhanced the
patient-doctor relationship. The ill and their families are more prepared,
and have greater understanding of the issues involved, while the medical
community can reach out in ways never before possible.
"Visits are now focussed on the real concerns and specific questions about
their condition or symptoms as a result of a pre-visit done in the privacy
of their home. When patients know what to ask, the results are often more
satisfying to all," says pediatrician Dr Paula Elbirt who operates her
namesake Web site drpaula.com.
Chief operating officer at drkoop.com
Dennis Upah agrees. He says that consumers are taking charge and control of
their interactions with physicians. "We¹ve gone from a period of physician
talking and the patient listening to a true dialog as a result of a more
empowered and educated consumer," he adds.
Upah points out that this also created better doctors because an enlightened
patient is one that brings information to the physicians. "Good physicians
are never threatened by that. In fact, they undoubtedly look up the
information themselves immediately after the patient leaves the office," he
But how do you tell the bonafide from the online quacks? Internet users
often ignore warnings on such sites that information given should be
validated by a physician.
Anita Devasahayam spent last decade as a technology journalist in the
city and plans to live the next one far from the madding crowd and closer to
home and family. When not pottering about the house, she is planting seeds
in people's minds about the Internet and journalism as a career.