Wendy Sue Swanson: Why are patients not finding their doctors online?

Wendy Sue SwansonAs a mom of two toddlers I was looking forward to the presentation of Wendy Sue Swanson. She believes that a growing community of online physicians can empower parents and patients to make informed decisions based on science. I wanted to learn about the way parents and doctors can cooperate in taking care of children.

And there she is: on the red spot, in a pink dress. And she is talking to us as a mother, a daughter, a doctor and a patient. And she is pleading for the use of novel communication tools, like social media, in healthcare. As a doctor to broadcast the latest discoveries and medical insights and to comment for instance on blogs about the side effects of vaccines; as a daughter to get informed about her mother’s disease; as a patient to get insight in her own medical files and to get access to research paid by tax money; and as a mum to learn how to take care of her children.

Social media gives us the opportunity to learn from the people around us – from the old ones, who are wrinkled and wise but also from the young ones. As a mum Wendy Sue Swanson experienced herself how much you can learn from your children. They teach us how to behave or not, and how to enjoy the preparation for a vacation more that the vacation itself.

Doctors can also learn a lot from the people and patients around them, by listening to them when they are online. Roughly 80% of the people in the USA first go to Google when they are concerned about something in their body. And they do not find a doctor online to answer their questions or to comment on blogs.

Doctor Swanson is convinced that online communication will not replace the one-to-one hands-on medicine in the office. But it can be a valuable addition.

A live blog by Karin van Haren