An Online Health Communications Revolution
The Internet and social media have radically changed how people obtain health information. Most of us have been tempted to use the Web to diagnose symptoms even though we know it’s not always accurate, and that we can end up misdiagnosing a pulled muscle as an imminent heart attack.
Social media and the Internet have not only changed the way patients access information, but the way they interact with health care providers, policy makers and with each other. However, there has been little rigorous research on the impact of this communications revolution.
Dr. Andreas Laupacis, Canada Research Chair in Health Policy and Citizen Engagement, aims to change this by exploring how new communications tools can best channel the views of patients. He is developing a website that will provide accurate and unbiased information and encourage dialogue about health policy in Ontario.
Laupacis is also using a new film-based technique to explore the tensions that have arisen among patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), their doctors, researchers and politicians. The dispute centres on whether a treatment that involves opening the veins to the brain (often called liberation treatment) improves the symptoms of MS.
Laupacis’s work will result in citizens having better understanding of science and health policy and in improved online health care information.