With the advent of the Internet, it’s no wonder that we rely more and more on the services offered to us online. But should our healthcare be treated the same way? My personal answer? The quality of professional, in-person health advice or assessment will always trump an online health advice service, at least given the state of health information and communication technology right now.
Don’t get me wrong. Online services have great potential—they’re convenient, more affordable, and more accessible to all as long as you can find a computer and stable internet connection. If you are suffering an injury or disability that makes it a challenge to travel to a health clinic, or simply live in an underserviced community, an online health service can mean more than convenience, it can mean safety and security. However keep in mind, with online services it can be hard to figure out at a glance whether or not the service offers credible health advice that you can trust. And with something as important as your health, this is not something you want to take a gamble on.
What’s more, losing the physician-patient interaction is another often overlooked downside to using an online service. A strong relationship founded on compassion, trust and understanding with your doctor is significantly important for your health. In-person interaction is what helps your doctor read your emotions and recognize your personal values and beliefs about your own care. This bond is something that is a lot harder to nurture through a computer screen.
So before you make the decision, know the benefits and drawbacks of choosing the online route for your health, and if you do choose to go the online route, I can’t stress enough: Do your research on each health service you are considering and be aware of the risk of choosing convenience over quality.