How can we reduce the side effects of Information Therapy ?
Posted May 09 2011 8:39am
Many medicines are available over the counter ( OTC) . These are usually safe drugs, which have been used for many years . They are effective for common problems; have few side effects; and do not need a doctor's prescription. However, most medicines are still available only with a doctor's prescription. This is because medicines can be powerful , and while they may be very good at treating certain problems, they may also have undesirable side-effects. Experts need to make a decision regarding the risk-benefit ratio of these drugs, so they can select which drugs are so powerful that they can only be dispensed with a doctor's prescription.
Medicines form an important tool in the medical armamentarium. However, not all illnesses need medicines, and an increasingly important addition to the medical arsenal today is Information Therapy.
It's useful to remember that while Information Therapy can be effective and inexpensive, just like any other therapeutic tool, it can have side effects as well ! This is especially true with online medical information, because a lot of this is unreliable, outdated and plain wrong. Unfortunately, many people do not have the ability or sophistication to differentiate between good quality and poor quality information , and wrong information can actually harm a patient. Thus, patients with blocked tubes may end up wasting thousands of dollars on pursuing ineffective therapies such as Clear Passage ( massage therapy which claims to open blocked tubes) rather than do IVF; while men with low sperm counts end up getting frustrated after spending hundreds on " herbal medications" which claim to boost low sperm counts but are completely useless !
Not only can unreliable information harm patients, it can also waste a lot of the doctor's time, because he now has to remove the myths and misconceptions which patients have acquired online from unreliable websites, which are just out to earn a quick buck by peddling cures !
Just like powerful medicines need to be "prescribed" by a doctor, it's a good idea for doctors ( and hospitals and governments) to "prescribe" reliable information. Information Therapy is powerful medicine - and it needs to be promoted, so that patients benefit from it.
The best way to do this is to use reliable patient educational content, designed by non-profits such as Healthwise. You can see how well this works in real life by going to www.informationtherapy.in !