KARAN: You referred to patient education earlier, not just in terms of treatment information but also the types of questions to be asking. But what about the former? Our generation is definitely comfortable using technology to look up health information, and we get a ton of information through news, magazines, and the general media. But not all of it’s good. So how do you recommend people sift through the good and bad information out there, when they’re trying to inform themselves before a visit to the doctor.
DR. UBEL: Of course, the education system should help people learn how to objectively look at things and help them when things go over their heads.
But the other thing I’d say is, print out and bring in the stuff that you see online, show it to your doctor, and let them tell you what’s right or wrong about it. Then they’ll know what you care about more than they did before, which is really valuable. Your doctor shouldn’t be threatened when you bring these materials in; they should be happy that you’re helping focus the visit on the topics you care about. If you’ve got misconceptions that are affecting the way you’re behaving, like what pills you’re taking or not taking, the doctor should be happy to have a chance to address those misconceptions.
So: print it out; bring it in.
Speaking broadly, younger patients are probably more likely to have sporadic relationships with the healthcare system—moving around a lot, without a constant PCP, potentially also going to MinuteClinics more often. As decision-makers, do you think that affects the things we should be thinking about …