Don’t look at the internet. No matter how few doctors tell their patients this, we talk like it’s everyone.
We love the story. It fulfills the narrative of the stereotypical controlling doctor.
But don’t look at the internet is a hangover from the early days of the Information Age. It marked the transition from physician as sole arbiter of information to patient as empowered information consumer. As a rally cry for newly minted e-patients it defined transition in an age-old power structure.
Yes, everyone has a story of a doctor who told them, ‘don’t look at the internet.’ But these stories are fading fast and becoming a fascinating bit of history. The dated, clueless souls who still mutter these words to a patient were long ago on the fast track to irrelevance.
In contrast, the current crop of resident doctors have no idea what ‘don’t look at the internet’ means or represents. Come to Texas Children’s Hospital and talk to 140 of the planet’s smartest pediatric residents. Pull them into a discussion about the issue and they’ll look at you like you’ve lost your mind. It’s understood that web-derived information is part of medicine and a patient’s individual process. It’s all they’ve known.
I consider it a gift that I was trained in the analog age and had a front row seat to the liberation of medical information. It’s been amazing to watch – both the doctors and the patients. Our transition was part of what motivated the launch of this site. Too many of us forget what that early transition was like. It’s increasingly part of history.
VC Esther Dyson has suggested that change in medicine will happen one retirement at a time. And day by day we’re getting there.
Enjoy your story about the doctor who told you not to look at the internet. Pretty soon you’ll need a new story.