I had the pleasure of being a guest on NPR’s Talk of the Nation yesterday, along with Dr. Scott Haig and Dr. Ted Eytan, to talk about “Do-It-Yourself Diagnosis on the Web.” (For a substantive summary of the show, check out Josh Seidman’s recap.)

The producers were smart to kick things off with Dr. Haig’s lovely definition of “brainsuckers” (basically, pushy patients) and his wish that all patients were like nurses (trained to take orders from doctors). The phone lines lit up and stayed busy for the next 30 minutes.

At first I was surprised by Dr. Haig’s unapologetic attitude. But upon further reflection, I realized that as an orthopedic surgeon he just may not have had opportunities for developing a more enlightened view. As a researcher, I’ve had the benefit of learning from my respondents and talking with doctors who have developed a viewpoint beyond their own interests.

My personal turning point came while I was writing “Internet Health Resources” and reading survey responses like this one: “Our first visit to the neurologist, when my son was diagnosed with autism was not as devastating as it could have been. My husband and I were well informed and had already figured out the diagnosis by the time we saw the doctor. By being better informed, that first visit was very informative and constructive because we knew the background information, weren’t in denial and could discuss therapies and tests in a logical way with the doctor.”

First, who could argue with that mom’s online pursuit of information? Second, when 80% of internet users are doing something, you are probably not going to get the genie back in the bottle.

I would love to hear about other people’s turning points.

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