Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category

Patient Education About Healthcare Purchases Over the Internet: If It’s Too Good To Be True, It Probably Isn’t

October 1, 2014

Many of our patients are besieged with unsolicited Internet advertisements offering them unbelievable solutions and cures to most of mankind’s medical maladies. Patients come to and ask for advice about these promises to magically restore their health.

Since I receive so many request from patients to evaluate these offerings, I have put together five questions that patients should ask themselves before proceeding to buy from websites offering outlandish claims including restoring the fountain of youth!

  1. Does it claim to cure everything? Some of these ads offer to cure diabetes, arthritis, cancer, promote weight loss, prevent baldness and restore hair, remove wrinkles, increase sex drive and cure erectile dysfunction…just to name a few! Since the days of the traveling medicine man shows and snake oil salesmen, there have always been those that offer to sell the unwary elixirs, lotions, potions, monkeys paws and pills that will cure “all that ails ya”. Physicians know that there is not one single remedy that will cure everything.
  1. Are they trying to sell you something? Any website that reports a new discovery that requires the viewer to buy an E-book or pay for specialized treatments that are only available from their facility should be a red flag. Also any site that encourages you to encourage your friends to sign up as resellers, as in Amway pyramids, should make the buyer very cautious.
  1. Has this treatment already worked for thousands of anonymous people? The less reputable sites will post the outrageous benefits that have been received by unverifiable individuals who don’t give their name and city but only their initials.
  1. Is this the medical secret doctors don’t want you to know about? Of the country’s 600,000 physicians, I doubt if there any of them who are a part of a secret conspiracy to keep people sick so that the doctors’ appointment books and schedules remain full. Physicians are appalled and insulted at such a suggestion. People become doctors because they are interested in helping others.
  1. Are there any peer reviewed medical studies that can support their claims of curing so many maladies? It is difficult for the public and the media who are not trained in science and the scientific method to discern that a claim or a medical study is a well thought out evaluation that meets the criteria of a double blind study with placebo controls. So many of these unreasonable and dramatic claims suffer from confirmation bias which is giving more weight to an opinion or conclusion that supports those promoting or selling the products. This is the benefit of a peer review process for a scientific research report or article where multiple independent reviewers and scientists review the same study or research.

My advice to patients: If you answer yes to one or two of these questions, be cautious and ask the seller for more information. If you answer yes to three or more of these questions, shut down the site and don’t walk away, but run quickly and demand that they take you off of their mailing list!

I hope you have found this information useful and will help guide your patients on unsolicited Internet purchases. For more information about buying medical products over the Internet, encourage patients to speak to their physician. Final advice: Caveat emptor or let the buyer beware has never been more appropriate.

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Internet medications-You Get What You Pay For

July 25, 2012

Internet ordered Viagra is rarely genuine. The active ingredient concentration of the Internet ordered Viagra was 30% to 50% of the label claim, and of the 4 online pharmacies claiming to be Canadian, none ship their medication from Canada. If you decide to order your medications online, you need to be aware that you may be getting an inferior product. Caveat emptor – let the buyer beware.

Viagra From Pfizer Pharmaceuticals

Surfing the Internet-Finding Credible Healthcare Information

August 6, 2011

The Internet has become a convenient place to find information to all of your healthcare questions. With thousands of health websites available, how are surfers to find reliable advice.

Here are a few steps that I recommend to make sure the information you find on the Internet is accurate, safe, and reliable.

Know thy source
First check out the “about us” page on the website. This will tell you who publishes the website. Websites from the government, universities, and non-profit organizations such as the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society usually have high quality websites.

Look at the contact information
Approach the information with caution if the website doesn’t provide an easy way to connect with the organization.

Look for expert written material
Information written by doctors, nurses, social workers, psychologists, or other experts in a field of medicine is probably a credible resource.

Look for expert reviewers
Look at the “about us” and see who reviews the material. For example, a cardiologist should review information written on heart disease. Health sites reviewed by lay persons or attorneys are suspect.

Look at the web address
The last three letters of the address helps identify the organization that sponsors the website.
.gov are sites sponsored by the government
.edu are sites sponsored by educational institutions
.org may be non-profit, scientific, or research sites
.com can be used by anyone else

Reputable sites will back information with medical research and will site the actual sites.

Buyer beware
Be cautious with any site that offers miracle cures that have no research to back up the claims. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Avoid sites that have “secret ingredients” or contains compounds “that your doctor won’t tell you about.” Look for scientific proof on all claims. I suggest you contact your doctor before starting any new medical therapies including supplements.

Check for certification
Look for the Health On the Net Foundation logo, which is usually displayed on a health website’s home page.

This is a non-profit organization, which accredits health websites that stick to certain principles to assure that the information on the site is reliable.

Bottom Line: There is usually and credible information on the Internet. Use these guidelines to identify credible and reliable information, which will make you a better patient and improve your relationship with your doctor.