With information literally at our fingertips, the Internet can be a great tool for educating yourself about your body and possible health concerns, says Andrew Brown, M.D., an internal medicine specialist at Piedmont Physicians Group.
Creating an agenda and reviewing the possible causes of your symptoms can make your doctor’s visit more efficient and productive.
“We have a short period of time in the appointment, so that’s much more beneficial in our partnership and in figuring out what I need to address,” he says.
As a primary care physician, Dr. Brown sees patients for a number of reasons, so when patients have issues they are prepared to discuss, it streamlines the diagnostic process.
“It helps me know what their concerns are,” explains Dr. Brown. “Sometimes patients come in and I have to figure what their concerns are. I go through a list of possible conditions in my head and try to figure out what’s wrong, based on past medical history that I know of.”
Dr. Brown cautions patients not to go overboard with research – that includes not diagnosing yourself with an obscure condition you read about online.
“Sometimes patients are absolutely convinced they have certain diagnoses,” says Dr. Brown, but thinking worst case scenario can lead to unnecessary testing that a doctor otherwise wouldn’t recommend. Statistically, it’s unlikely that you have the rare medical condition you read about online.
Resources for empowered patients
When doing research, stick with reputable websites that are attached to medical organizations and are peer-reviewed.
“Doctors have embraced empowered patients,” says Dr. Brown. “I enjoy when patients come in and have done their homework. It makes my job so much easier.”
For information on a variety of symptoms, illnesses and medical treatments, visit the Piedmont Health Library.