Medicine In The Age of Information


People come to me wanting to be medicated and thus treated for the conditions they have.  This is the nature of my profession, at least as the public presently perceives it.

They expect it to be done immediately.

“I have got to know what medications you are on first.”

“I need to see your past medical records first.  I just want to know what mistakes other doctors have made so that I don’t make the same ones.”

People stare at me in disbelief when I make retorts like the ones above.

Nobody seems to have a feeling for what is really happening.

We are living in an age dominated by information technology.  People study it and practice it and create information technology type companies, but as a physician, I have never had a harder time obtaining the information I need.

Of course, you need to know all of the medications you are on.  I cannot say this too many times.  All of your prescriptions should be filled at the same pharmacy.  Ideally, you ought to get your OTCs (“Over the Counter Drugs”) there, too.  They ought to be keeping a list and running drug-drug interaction checks, but I am fairly skeptical that this happens with any consistency.

Some pharmacies will make you open up an “account” online to get your own drug list.  Get it and get a copy of it to your medical doctor.

I can’t remember the last time I convinced a pharmacy to send me directly that sort of list.

Get copies of your own medical records.  Although this may sometimes be difficult for psychiatry, this ought to be a slamdunk for any other medical specialty.  (psychiatry records may also be available; just takes some pushing and verifying who they will be released to.)  But get all the records you can into an information retrieval system that you control.And transmit it to your doctor.

Remember, the days of a single family doctor who follows you and your family for a couple of generations are long gone.

You have a primary care doctor, as well as a group of specialists as required, probably with little or nothing in common except being on the same insurance panel.  Get control of ALL your medical records and provide them to the doctor such as I who actually cares and wants to know about everything that is going on.

It is not impossible for me to imagine some scenarios where controlling your medical information may save your life.

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