Researching on Google can be cumbersome without knowing what to look for on proper healthcare websites.
By Deborah Holmén, M.Ed., NBCT
Feeling overwhelmed after a medical diagnosis is normal. For patients who want to know more about their condition, debating the veracity of information available online can cause stress. Becoming an empowered patient by learning some research tips can lead to a better health outcome.
Guide is here to help anyone with a diagnosis figure out how to navigate health care. The “Becoming Your Own Health Advocate” series helps to break down the process. They will also arm readers with information to help along every step of the way.
Patient, “Mary,” has been diagnosed with a weakened thyroid. Her symptoms are fatigue, weight gain, insomnia, forgetfulness and hair loss. Her doctor diagnosed her specifically with the illness, hypothyroidism.
Mary is now armed with information to help her decide which medical modality to utilize to help her heal. As mentioned in the article, Become Your Own Health Advocate: Choosing Your Doctor, Mary can choose a Conventional, Functional Medicine or Integrative Medicine doctor. Each of these practices deals with Mary’s condition differently.
The Conventional Doctor will help Mary alleviate her symptoms by prescribing medications like Zolpidem for sleep and Levothyroxine for thyroid function. This is done by prescribing drugs based on several data points:
- Lab tests
- Patient survey
- Medical history
With Conventional medicine, Mary would need to learn about these new medications, their side effects and if they conflict with other medicines, foods or supplements. Websites that she could visit to help discern her treatment plan are:
- OpenMD.com – A search engine that produces high-quality medical information for free. OpenMD searches billions of documents from government agencies, global health organizations, medical journals and reference sites.
- Drug.com – A site to help find the cheapest drug cost and inform patients about drug side effects and contraindications.
Mary could also find out the root cause of her illness by utilizing a Functional and Integrative medicine doctor. Functional and Integrative Medicine doctors will not only diagnose and treat her disease, but they will also complete comprehensive lab tests to find the root cause of Mary’s condition. Many lab tests can be covered by insurance. Mary will complete a thorough questionnaire, broken down by category, on the following topics:
- Mental health and physical health
- Diet and nutrition
- Exercise and physical fitness
There are several websites that can guide Mary to the right Functional and Integrative medicine doctor in her area. Integrative medicine facilities are becoming increasingly popular on hospital campuses due to the growing demand for alternative and complementary therapies in healthcare.
- The Institute for Functional Medicine – A website featuring information on how Mary can find a Functional Medicine doctor in her area. She can then select a trained practitioner that understands how to read comprehensive lab work to create a treatment plan that can restore health by finding the causation of the disease.
- Tampa General Hospital Integrative Medicine and Arts Program – According to TGH, “Integrative Medicine is an approach to health care that encompasses the whole person: the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. As your healthcare partner, Tampa General Hospital’s Integrative Medicine Program recognizes each person’s individuality and focuses on supporting whole-person health and well-being.”
While researching on Google may seem like a good idea, it can be difficult to know where to look for proper healthcare websites. Choosing the best medical modality to utilize allows patients to take control of their health and make informed decisions about their treatment options. Remember to always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions regarding your health.
Learn more about researching your medical condition on the internet by reading, Becoming Your Own Health Advocate Introduction