How can the amount of healthcare information on the Internet sometimes confuse patients, making them think they don’t need to see a physician for certain problems?

Though it can be useful to have an endless supply of medical information available through the Internet, it can also be difficult to determine what information is reliable.

Reliable health information can help patients be informed partners in their healthcare. But, inaccurate information can have a negative effect on patients’ health, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH).

Some sites allow anyone to post answers to health questions that can be based on nothing more than their personal opinion. If patients choose to read one of these sites, it is important to remember that the right choice for someone else – even if the person had a similar health concern – might not be the right healthcare path for you to follow, according to the NIH.

Patients should not ignore their own health concerns, regardless of what they might read on the Internet. If patients have a health concern and have done online research about it, talk with your physician about what you read. That way, your physician can speak to the accuracy of the information and how it may or may not affect your personal condition, according to the NIH.

When looking for health information online, look for reliable information, for example, government or hospital Websites, according to the NIH.

For more information about how evaluating healthcare information on the Internet, talk with your physician.

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