I am a strong believer in using the resources we have so readily at hand to inform ourselves of the latest medical information and guidelines and to inform our patients. Every exam room in our practice is wired with access to the Web and I refer to it during nearly every patient visit. Here's a quick look at sites that I'm currently using:
▸ Social Bookmarking: With the explosion of social networking sites in the past year, there has been a corresponding increase in sites, such as delicious.com
▸ Patient Education: If a patient needs information, I turn to sites vetted by government agencies or medical organizations such as the American Academy of Family Physicians. The AAFP's site, www.familydoctor.org
The National Library of Medicine (http://medlineplus.gov
The Mayo Clinic's site (www.mayoclinic.com
Despite the fact that 54% of our residency program clinic patients are on Medicaid, a large number have access to a computer to look at these sites.
▸ Physician Education: When I'm searching for information for my own purposes, I use the same rule of thumb: Well-worn paths are best. When I'm looking for a high-level overview or when I can't remember a specific fact, I'll go to www.fpnotebook.comwww.emedicine.com
Through our hospital and residency program affiliate, I have access to www.uptodate.com
The 600-pound gorilla for drug information, of course, is www.epocrates.com
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's electronic Preventive Services Selector (www.epss.ahrq.gov
To some degree I worry about physicians who aren't checking Web resources. As Dr. Larry Weed, the pioneer visionary of the information age in health care, once suggested: If you want to go on a trip, you don't go to a travel agent who has memorized all of the flight boarding times, you go to someone who knows how to utilize resources to pick the best trip for you.
Our memory of what we learned in medical school is imperfect. And what was true back then, has probably changed.