Doctors go virtual with ‘Internet prescriptions’

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Doctors go virtual with ‘Internet prescriptions’

The traditional doctor-patient relationship is being transformed by the Internet according to a recent study that found GPs are passing the diagnosis buck by increasingly prescribing ‘health websites’ to their patients.

According to a Gold Coast study published in the Medical Journal of Australia, 55 percent of GP’s aged 41-50 years-old are prescribing health websites to educate their patients about particular conditions or diseases.

This is compared to 31 percent of GP’s aged 51–60 years adopting the practice. The majority of GPs (69 percent) reported that they most often recommend websites to patients aged 26–45 years.

The results were supported by findings from the International Society for Research on Internet Interventions, which conducted successful trials on the effectiveness of Internet programs for a number of health problems including depression, eating disorders and body image dissatisfaction.

Spokesperson for the Australian medical website Virtual Medical Centre.Com, Dr Kosterich, said these were significant findings but they are the tip of the iceberg when you factor in the next generation of medical specialists coming through the system.

“Medical students coming through the system now will almost exclusively adopt the practice, as will future students. It will be the norm with the majority of patients spending much more time finding out about a specific condition online than they will in face-to-face consultations. Nearly 70 percent of GPs acknowledged they directed 26-45 year-olds to online medical sites in this study which underlines the changing face of society. Medicine will reflect this like everything else,” Kosterich said.

Supporting his prediction is the Australian visitor traffic to Virtual Medical Centre.Com, which attracted 371,000 visitors in September alone.

The site incorporates 19 separate free-of-charge ‘Medical Centres’ to address conditions including allergies, skin conditions, psychiatry, and men, women and children’s health.
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