Please Do Not Confuse Your Google Search With My Medical Degree – How Accessing Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and Online Searches can Support Information Needs and Increase Understanding for Patients and Relatives

Is there a power struggle in health care related to knowdledge? Yesterday I saw the below Tweet related to patient knowledge and medical knowledge. In the Tweet someone writes “Please do not confuse your 20 m of covering my disease at med school with my 5 year of living with it 24/7/365 and reading the literature”. Patients feel as if medical professionals do not listen to their stories.

Twitter medical records .png

My guess that this is a response to the medical professionals “Please do not confuse your Google search with my medical degree”. Here physchians feel that patients do not respect their medical knowledge. This view that Google might make us believe we understand more than we do has some evidence in science, as is for example discussed in an episode of the pod cast You are not so smart:

What effect does Google have on your brain? Here’s an even weirder question: what effect does knowing that you have access to Google have on your brain?

In this episode we explore what happens when a human mind becomes aware that it can instantly, on-command, at any time, search for the answer to any question, and then, most of time, find it.

According to researcher Matthew Fisher, one of the strange side effects is an inflated sense of internal knowledge. In other words, as we use search engines, over time we grow to mistakenly believe we know more than we actually do even when we no longer have access to the internet.

These two perspectives are indeed interesting to talk about, and one can wonder where they come from? There seems to be an ongoing power struggle in health care related to knowledge, and both patients and physicians feel as if the other party don’t really listen or understand.

In the middle of this power struggle the system Journalen where patients can read their medical recors was launched.  And of course we discuss mutual learning, and patient participation a lot in relation to DOME research.

I believe that the power struggle in health care is a no win situation. Most would agree that it is much better to aim at understanding and mutual learning.

Last year we also wrote a workshop paper with the title: “Please Do Not Confuse Your Google Search With My Medical Degree – How Accessing Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and Online Searches can Support Information Needs and Increase Understanding for Patients and Relatives”

The abstract for the paper is presented below, and the full paper is found on research gate: 

Patients’ use of eHealth services and other online sources to identify medical information has become increasingly popular. For many patients the Web is an important source where they can find information and advice about symptoms and treatments. The majority of patients sees the information on the Web as reliable and uses it to influence their healthcare. Healthcare professionals on the other hand remain skeptical about the advantages of the Web as a source of medical information for the layperson. Physicians have raised concerns about patients using online sources to find information about their health as they can misinterpret or misuse information. This can occur because patients may have inadequate health literacy and eHealth literacy or are not able to distinguish accurate from inaccurate sources. The aim of this position paper is to outline a critical incident that illustrates the patient perspective of searching medical information online in relation to the eHealth service Journalen where patients and relatives in Sweden can access their electronic health record online. The critical incident is based on a true story and describes how Steve received his cancer diagnosis, and how his wife Tina sought information on the Web to learn more about his condition. The case illustrates how reading the electronic health record and looking online for further information can improve patients’ understanding of their medical condition and empower them to make health decisions.