Do you get better information from WWW than from your rheumatologist?

Do you get better information from WWW than from your rheumatologist?

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By Irwin Lim, Rheumatologist

Rheumatologists typically spend a great deal of time attempting to educate patients about their problem. Some patients want to know about their disease but others don’t. As you’re reading this, I’m going to assume you belong to the group that does.

For a variety of reasons, there is only so much that can be learned from a standard consultation with your doctor. There are time pressures and in that “stressful” environment, most people forget most of what they have been told.

Most of us doctors understand this. We try to improve things by writing down information or by providing printed information sheets (BJC Health has collected a range of information sheets you can download on a variety of rheumatic diseases & treatment options on one convenient webpage).

When I’m stuck for an answer, I often “google” it. Many patients must do this for their disease or symptoms. Of course, the search engine may not always return appropriate sources of medical information. It’s one of the reasons, BJC Health works hard at this blog, to create a reliable source of general information for the public.

It was only after I started to blog that I discovered another source of information: blogs written by patients. People living with a disease who then use their experiences to help demystify the condition. These blog sites help answer the many questions that must crop up in one’s mind after being told you have a chronic disease. Often, these questions come to you after you’ve left the doctor’s room.

I now frequently visit 3 patient blogs on rheumatoid arthritis: RA Warrior, infinity itis, and RheumaBlog. I was very grateful to find BJC Health’s blog profiled on RheumaBlog. A post of ours on Ankylosing Spondylitis was also included on RA Warrior’s blog carnival.

Our clinic works on a Connected Care philosophy and we strongly believe in treating the whole person, and not just the disease. Guiding patients to good sources of information is one aspect of this, as knowledge empowers the patient, hopefully allowing them to cope better.

Please tell us what you think about patient blogs? Do you have any particular sites you think we should share with our rheumatic patients?

Dr Irwin Lim is a rheumatologist and a director of BJC Health. You should follow him on twitter here.
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