Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Searching for patient information

If you read this blog regularly or have scanned the entries you'll see there's quite a bit about searching for evidence and resources to help us do that. What I haven't paid much attention to is helping patients find reliable information relevant to them.

Of course, if they feel up to it, they can search the Cochrane Library and read the 'plain language' conclusions that are helpfully part of each review. But if they want some more basic background knowledge there are resources that may be more reliable than Google.

PRODIGY One is Prodigy, which was formerly the Clinical Knowledge Summaries (CKS) site, which was part of the UK's National Health Service. Here patients can select a tab for 'Patient Info' and this links through to leaflets on a myriad of medical and dental topics.

MedlinePlus Trusted Health Information for You The other resource is Medline Plus, which is the US equivalent and allows patients to link through to leaflets from a variety of sources.

Having patients better understand the aetiology, prevention, prognosis and treatment of their conditions is helpful, I believe, on several fronts. Firstly it helps go some way to improving 'informed' consent, something I am inherently dubious of because of knowing how informed a patient is or needs to be to make 'informed' consent. Secondly it simply helps improve communication and may mean that patients respond better, for example, to preventive advice or to treatment suggestions. Finally, patients informed by more reliable information may be more likely to accept an evidence-based approach to their care since, hopefully, the resource offers higher level evidence than mere opinion and here-say.

If I was in practice now I would probably stick a link to one or both of these on my website. It may improve a practice's image as a patient-focused place as well as directing patients to helpful information.

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