Library Reference: Medicine 2.0 – from Steven Abram

Medicine 2.0: Peer-to-peer healthcare

by Susannah Fox, read Full Report View Online

About 75% of adults and 95% teenagers in the U.S. have internet access.

However, adultsliving with chronic disease are significantly less likely than healthy adults to have access to the internet:

  • 64% of adults living with one or more chronic disease go online.
  • 81% of adults reporting no chronic diseases go online.

That’s one of the roadblocks to keep in mind. There are still pockets of
people who remain offline, but many of them have what we call second-degree
internet access. Their loved ones are online. Caregivers
represent an opportunity for the engagement of our elders and other people who remain offline.

Six in ten U.S. adults go online wirelessly, with a laptop, mobile device or
tablet.

Eight in ten American adults have a cell phone.

Digging deeper into the data, 9 out of 10 adults in the U.S. say health professionals are more helpful than fellow patients, friends & family when it comes to getting an accurate medical diagnosis. The picture shifts when we ask about emotional support in dealing with a health issue: fellow patients, friends, and family are the much more popular choice. And it is an even split when it comes to practical advice for coping with day-to-day health situations: professional sources like doctors and nurses rank pretty much even with fellow patients, friends, and family. The bottom line is that the Internet does not replace health professionals.

Pew Internet research shows that one in five internet users have gone online to find others who might have health concerns similar to theirs. That percentage is even higher – 1 in 4 – among those living with chronic
disease, those who are caring for a loved one, and those who have experienced a significant change in their physical health, such as weight loss or gain, pregnancy, or quitting smoking.

Libraries are part of the solution to empower patients and people to assist in their own health care and progress.

Howver, we can always improve  our work every day.  That’s what I love about our profession, everything keeps changing and getting better.  I remember when there were no online sources for medical stuff and I was taught how to use Index Medicus for medical questions for doctors and nurses in my health information courses.  In print that was a beast!    Index Medicus was converted to digital format to create Medline and then some fulltext was added (the plus in Medline Plus).  I remember when I was helping to buildit for SilverPlatter in the 90′s and getting all involved in MeSH, etc.  Those professional vocabularies and tools were awesome for the medical professional.

My story is that around that time I was diagnosed with non-Hodgins lymphoma in my spine and ribcage and had to have a spinal laminectomy of 10.5 inches of cancer and then many months of chemo and radiation.  I had to learn to walk again, etc.   My hair never really grew back but I think it just hit when I was going to go bald anyway (grin).  I tell this story in speeches because I always thought that as a librarian that Medline was the best database for everyone to get medical information. I was wrong.     I knew how to use it like a bandit.  Hell, I helped to build some versions of the database! So I dived in and searched and got results.  That’s when I discovered that there is a huge gap between search results in databases that are tuned to medical professionals and those that are tuned to the patient or the patient’s advocate  (parent, spouse, friend, etc.).  I am not saying that there aren’t great stories about people finding cures in the professional databases, it’s just not my experience that this is a great place to start for the patient.

I found three things bad, personally, from Medline in the patient context… read all here. 

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