Managing the ‘Google patients’ – what doctors need to do?

01.08.22 09:08 AM Comment(s) By drjithendrakumar

Patients researching on Google

When information is widely available on the internet, people look for all kind of disease condition. When literacy level increases, they tend to scout for information in the internet if they are not well educated on their disease condition. With loosing trust between doctors and patients, patients tends to seek second opinion after researching on their case in Google.

A busy doctor, gives a maximum of 10-15 mins per patient and it would be their responsibility to provide information pertaining to their disease condition. The bad part is, the doctor will not get to know how well the patient has understood about the disease and its outcome. Hence it would be advisable for the doctors to create a repository of information - videos, articles, case studies to educate the patient at their leisure. If a system could be developed to ask the patient on how well they have understood, a huge burden on doctors will be taken off with this.

If such information is not provided to the patient, they Google to know more about the disease condition without even knowing the authenticity of the information. This creates lot of confusion and even affect in a way, they may even loose trust on their treating doctor.

Diabetes - A case study

Let’s consider Diabetes condition for our easy understanding. We shall get the keyword report from Google’s tool to understand how the general public behaves on the internet to fetch the information. Basically, Google gives us the number of people searching for these keywords in a set Geography. It can be across the Globe, India or within India, a region or the major cities

The below graphs shows the search results within India and the numbers against the major states of India. It also implies there is a large number of patients looking for the right information to suffice them. Maybe they are not getting this information from their treating doctors.

As shown in the map, the region with 100 scoring indicates that the state has the maximum searches and compared to the state with 100 score, other states are ranked in % to the one sate.

Google has identified related keywords searches and their average trend across the country. This implies that more and more people are researching all possible related keywords to get the right information.

As a doctor, what is that you need to understand from this trend?

 As more and more people use the internet, it is easy for them to scout for information on health for their own benefit. If you do not provide the right information, they will seek information from Google. Google is trying hard to set algorithms to fetch the right information from the ocean of websites and in the process, some website may not provide authenticate information or the right source. In the end, the patients are confused. A confused patient if visits you, can even give negative feedback on google that will hamper the doctors especially those practising privately.  

It is advisable for doctors to slowly start creating a genuine and authenticate contents, or license contents at least for their patients so your time is optimally utilised when they come for consultation.

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