'Google' a dirty word in healthcare service

'Google' a dirty word in healthcare service

Summary: So I took some time off last week for a health screening examination--something I try to do every year since I turned 35.Two days ago, I returned to the healthcare services provider, where I had done the examination, for a review of the results and to get any advice on problem areas I might have with regard to my well-being.


So I took some time off last week for a health screening examination--something I try to do every year since I turned 35.

Two days ago, I returned to the healthcare services provider, where I had done the examination, for a review of the results and to get any advice on problem areas I might have with regard to my well-being.

I was told I had borderline cholesterol levels, so I asked the doctor what foods I should avoid and what I should consume more of to bring the numbers down to the normal range. Her reply? "Go Google it."

She added that the Internet had "loads" of information on what I should do to lower my cholesterol and that I should go read them to find out more. Aptly so, she didn't name a single food group to help me out.

My health screening report also included recommendation for me to get Hepatitis A vaccination. It was the first time I had received medical advice to do so and wondered why it was necessary and if I was part of a risk group.

The doctor's reply? "Go read up. It's all here," she said, pointing to the written report from my health screening tests. Obviously, it didn't take me long to notice a pattern.

By then, I had begun to wonder if I was dealing with a medically-certified doctor and how she had convinced an established healthcare services provider to give her a job. I was also baffled how a medical professional would instruct me to trust the words of anonymous Internet sources over hers.

It didn't take long before I decided I should scoot out of the room before I felt compelled to ask if I should Google her credentials too.

It also left me wondering about the state of healthcare services and whether the impact of IT in this industry was really all positive.

When I met with James Woo, CIO of healthcare services provider, The Farrer Park Company (formerly named Singapore HealthPartners), last November to discuss the potential of telemedicine, he talked about how elderly folks would benefit from remote patient monitoring technologies. He said it would eliminate the need for patients who were less mobile to make a trip to the doctor's unless it was necessary.

Despite numerous reports about how the likes of telemedicine, teleconsultation, videoconferencing and real-time remote patient monitoring will greatly boost healthcare services, one key concern that frequently pops up is the lack of the doctor's personal touch.

If my experience this week is anything to go by, I shudder to think how much worse healthcare services can get when doctors like my "Google-it" advisor are offered even more opportunities to simply point patients to the Internet and technologies to get the medical answers they seek.

Don't get me wrong. I think it's great that technological advancements have allowed many pockets of people to access medical help that they wouldn't otherwise have. But this shouldn't come at the expense of offering better customer services. And it certainly shouldn't mean that healthcare services providers can choose the easier way out when delivering patient care.

Otherwise, why should anyone pay hundreds of dollars for healthcare services only to be told to get their remedies from the Internet?

Now, excuse me while I go Google the identity of my doctor friend.

Topics: CXO, Apps, Enterprise Software, Software


Eileen Yu began covering the IT industry when Asynchronous Transfer Mode was still hip and e-commerce was the new buzzword. Currently a freelance blogger and content specialist based in Singapore, she has over 16 years of industry experience with various publications including ZDNet, IDG, and Singapore Press Holdings.

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  • I think the medical fraternity should change their perception. We go to a doctor to get the doctor's advise and opinion. Otherwise we could have googled it ourselves. Internet, while is a fantastic source of information, can also mislead people.
  • "Hey doc, can I give these heart pills to my brother-in-law? He never sees a doctor and he complains of chest pains, so these might do the trick? says me.

    Doc looks up over his specs... "Sure, that's a good idea, but I'd suggest you check Google first. Let's be on the safe side. Even better, ask him to consult with Google too."

    "Next patient please." calls the doctor.
  • LOL, very funny, Pete :)

    Eileen Yu
    ZDNet Asia
  • Totally agree. I think it's yet another case of using Internet/IT to take the lazy way out.

    Eileen Yu
    ZDNet Asia
  • i give all credit to google for providing very valuable information on healthcare for many i would stongly support any internet service that provides health and medical information for betterment of patients as i had apersonal experince about my freind who was suffering from ulcer and under the treatment of reputed doc. but the patient was still struggling with its suffering because of uneasyness despite of all neccessary medicine he was not easy ,going to doc again and agian really a hard amount of time and also fees.and time given by docs. so iasked him why dont we chech the detail on internet he immediatly agreed and both found an very detail, safety, and side effects infromation of every medicine luckily we found he information what we looking for and reading that side effects of the every acidity medicine my friend really took control of his suffrings by managing his food time of pills and the side effects causing the health all has made him again go back to work and very satisfied it is fact that on every article on health on internet they are witing and giving proper advice to go to doc before any medicine intake and precaution enough to be safe and healthy. from all this i conclude that the internet medical health information are very useul should be improve further to be freely available to all for their priceless life. because doctors after all can not give much amount of time anyone will agree contrary to that one can spend the time on internet search for the setail information untill he get satisfied because that mount of ime cannot be available with docs "goog;e " a good word in health informaion.
  • Yeah, those doctors will think differently the moment they get sued for wrongful death because a patient "googled it" and chose an AdWords-sponsored link instead of something more substantial.
  • Hey Eileen, I'm surprised that the doc suggested that you Google for the answer. I get either a frown, a shaking head, or a dismissive response the moment I start my sentence with "I read on Google that..."