Tag Archives: webMD

Is WebMD helping or hurting?

Healthcare costs are through the roof and are generally one of the bigger issues facing the country (when the economy isn’t overshadowing everything else). Healthcare costs also are dragging on the economy. So bringing those costs down is a very important goal. I touch on this a little bit last week, and this week is going to look at another small piece of the puzzle–you.

Getting costs under control is going to require everyone, from doctors and pharmaceuticals to the patients themselves. For example, the CDC reports that in 2008 there were 123.8 million ER visits. According to the Director of the federal Office of Management and Budget, almost $700 billion is wasted on unnecessary care. Some of this unnecessary care comes in the form of unneeded ER visits. This article contains links to sources for both claims. It also makes some good counter-arguments in terms of saving costs on ER visits. But I’m not trying to argue about how much we could save on ER visits.

In general, patients can help cut healthcare costs with some education. We should be teaching high school students when they need to go to the doctor and when they don’t, about health insurance, and the differences between name-brand and generic pharmaceuticals. (Also, the importance of healthy eating. I’m pretty sure that was covered in my 9th grade health class, but I didn’t get much out of it. And everything gets overcomplicated when it comes to healthy eating). It would be expected with increased internet access that patients would have better access to health information. I’m sure sites like WebMD and Mayo Clinic Health Information pop to mind.

So why haven’t we seen a decrease in costs (or unnecessary ER visits) as more people have gotten access to the internet and its wealth of health information? It’s a good question, and I don’t have the answer. But I do wonder if sites like WebMD are actually helping or hurting things.

1. Easy Access Info

Continue reading

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Weekly Links #3

It’s Thursday. And I’m actually doing my weekly links on time! So we’re going to celebrate with a long one. Of course, I’m behind on all my other posts for this week (they’re coming, I promise!). Didn’t have internet for awhile with the move.

So, I feel like I haven’t yet explained why I’m doing links every Thursday. Or more importantly, why a lot of them have to do with public health stuff. Part of it is that I’m very interested in public health and thinking about getting my MPH while I’m at med school. The other side of it is that public health ideas can have an influence on your life–by changing views, helping to understand how things work, or just for the general advice. Anyways, on to the articles!

1. “Why is it so Difficult for Doctors to Stay on Time?” A couple of weeks ago in my links, I posted an article talking about doctors running behind and what the patient can do about it. This is a great follow-up piece from a doctor’s perspective. I like how it shows the tension between trying to stay on time and giving each patient as much time as they need. I definitely saw this issue at the community health center where I spent some time. We were always behind, and it was solely due to making sure each patient had their questions or concerns satisfied (within reason).

2. “Do Calories Really Count?” Loved this article. And it certainly fits in with the Michael Pollan school of thinking on food. I think the best takeaway from this article is the statement about the body being a chemistry lab instead of a bank. All calories are not equal. Sound advice.

3. “New Drug Could Cure Nearly Any Viral Infection” This is just pretty cool. I’m interested to see what this could lead to.

4. “A Prescription for Fear” Fantastic article comparing WebMD and Mayo Clinics websites. I’ve thought for a long time that WebMD might be doing more harm than good (saving the explanation for a longer post in the future), but this article from the NY Times exposes just what’s wrong with it–namely, pharmaceutical backing. Something to keep in mind next time you’re checking stuff out online about your health.

5. “Just 15 Minutes of Exercise a Day Could Add Years to Your Life” Just doing anything can help! No excuses about not having enough time.

6. “Will a Healthy Lifestyle Prevent Illness” This is an article that is kind of against what I’m about. It’s not off-base, but I think it goes too far. Yes, auto-immune disorders and a number of other health problems ignores a healthy lifestyle. But just because there is no guarantees that a healthy lifestyle will improve many things doesn’t mean that it’s not worth it (which the article doesn’t claim, but argues strongly enough that I would consider it implied). Yes, ancestry and luck are a factor. But it is foolish to undercut the way a person lives as a factor. It might not be guaranteed, but I can guarantee that the risks are high without a healthy lifestyle.

7. “Genetics and Obesity” I’ll let this article finish off my argument. I love the end. “Genetics is Not Destiny”. Thank you! I also really enjoy the line about dealing with the genetic hand you are dealt.

If you find any interesting articles or suggestions, please(!) send them to me!

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,