One of the most significant side effects that may come with trying to become an Empowered Patient is analysis paralysis. You simply have so much information, from so many different sources — at times offering conflicting conclusions — and you have become frustrated, confused, scared and do not know which end is up.
Analysis paralysis is common in patients who are not used to looking for health care information online — and those who are not sure how to vet the information they have received. Unfortunately, well meaning family and friends may simply complicate the issue because we all have friends of a friend whose husband’s niece had the same problem :-)
This brings to the forefront two principles that I discuss often.
First… physicians and other healthcare providers need to be more engaged online and need to be creating more content. Right now the content available when you Google a certain topic is either commercially oriented, dated or possibly completely inaccurate. Google has completely changed around their algorithm to determine SEO. This is probably good for the consumer as it will drown out the influence of many of the content farms and websites that simply want you to click through page after page of meaningless information to drive their revenues.
Second… The true power of social media lies within the ability of your network of twitter, facebook and true friends to guide you and help you vet the websites and information available — and along the way point you to sites that the “crowd” feels has useful, accurate and meaningful information. Perhaps your network might even point you towards a health care professional who welcomes Participatory Medicine or Empowered patients.
If you find yourself completely consumed by the information you have reviewed and you have a 12 inch stack of papers sitting in front of you …
- Stand up
- Turn off your computer
- Leave the paperwork alone
- Do not go back to google … for now
- Go out and do something fun… or at least distracting.
- Wake up the next morning…
- Head to twitter and perhaps to the Health Care Hashtag Project by the Fox Group.
- Start searching and engaging with patients or practitioners and find some folks you are comfortable with.
- You will inevitably be pointed to info sources and probably a patient driven (disease specific) website where you will find many people like you with the same goal.
This approach should allow you to drown out the noise, download actionable, meaningful content which you can digest … and improve your understanding of the disease you suffer from. After you have digested the information, you will have many questions…. now bring them with you to your Participatory Medicine proficient physician and review them together as a team.
End of analysis paralysis… I hope.
Disclaimer: this information is for your education and should not be considered medical advice regarding diagnosis or treatment recommendations. Some links on this page may be affiliate links. Read the full disclaimer.