Twenty years ago, if a doctor at a low-resource hospital in Thailand met a patient with anterior shoulder dislocation, he would have found details of reduction technique by browsing through few available out-of-date orthopedics textbooks.
In 2011, another doctor encountered the same situation. By typing keywords in an online search engine, 95,000 websites, 59,000 images, and 770 videos would appear in less than a second. Navigating through the Internet for healthcare information has never been simpler, faster, or more effective. Practicing medicine in a developing country, more challenges arise for us as how to make the best out of it.
Being part of the world’s largest community, we are able to distribute healthcare information to doctors, healthcare professionals, and patients worldwide. With telemedicine, a doctor in a rural hospital can send lung ultrasonogram to an expert across the continent and know whether it is pneumothorax or not. Rare diseases gain more awareness. Patients can connect with others suffering from the same conditions through international organizations and know how to seek help.
Therefore, it is important that we keep ourselves update with technology and knowledge constantly and learn how to apply the most appropriate one in our clinical settings.
Nevertheless, the challenge comes with how to sift through the flooding of the information. We have to realize that the newest piece of information is not necessarily the best one. To quote a discourse of the Buddha, “Kalama Sutta”, we must not believe something because it is claimed to be true, sounds reasonable, or universally accepted.
Instead, we must question those facts and seek proof with our experiences. In Thailand, doctors used to be so omnipotent that their judgment could not be doubted. As the world changes, we should use this opportunity to encourage the public to find health information online, suggest for reliable resources, and be open to learn mutually when approached by patients who have done exhaustive research before discussing with us.
See on nejm200.nejm.org