Dr Ian Clarke (left) cutting cake with KCCA’s Dr Daniel Okello (second right) and other IMG Staff during the official launch of the International Medical Centre (IMC) Ntinda complex on Friday. Photo by Shamim Saad
Seeking answers online by browsing the internet is trendy and appreciated by many, as it offers various options for solutions, but for medics, their worry is that the trend is a threat to the health of the patients.
Medics say patients are increasingly becoming opinionated, making it difficult to believe diagnosis conducted when they visit health facilities.
“Surfing is not an evil, it is important, but it is becoming risky as well because patients ought to believe the information they get as the gospel truth.
"It is hard to convince a patient who has surfed, that he is suffering from a different disease than the one that he or she already surfed about,” Daniel Okello the director of public health at Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) said.
Okello expressed the concern on Friday during the official launch of the International Medical Centre (IMC) Ntinda branch, Kampala.
“We are worried that in the past, the doctor had control of previous technologies, but now the Internet is wholly in the hands of the patient.
Due to the surplus of information, it could become dangerous as it may be from inaccurate sites which leads to misunderstandings,”
Okello explained that self-diagnosis via the internet, could become worse to a patient if they learn about signs of some dangerous diseases from the web search.
He said such people develop what is medically termed cyberchondria condition; an escalation of concerns about common symptoms based on review of search results and literature online.
Dr Charles Kasozi, a family physician at the National Referral Hospital Mulago, when contacted on the issue, said it is wrong for a patient to surf on the Internet and believe all that they read.
“Most of this information on the Internet is given by inexperienced people and it leads to self-medication based on assumptions.
"Imagine you have headache, you surf and the internet suggests pain killers, when you take have you cured the blood pressure, anemic state, poor sight that headache is pointing to?" Kasozi wondered.
He proposed that patients visit the doctors where they are evaluated to determine the health problem they are facing.
Dr Ian Clark, the founder and chairman International Medical group, said the practice is common among patients, but said his staff has always been able to deal with such cases amicably.
Research conducted by the Pew research Centre in 2013 on the internet and technology, found that one in three American adults have gone online to figure out a medical condition in.
The finding indicates that top health information searches involve food safety or recalls, drug safety or recalls or pregnancy and childbirth.
The top symptom-related searches involve information about a specific disease or medical problem.