Wall Street Journal Looks at Physician Advice Web Sites
The Wall Street Journal today profiles several new, free or low-cost Internet sites that attempt to provide personal answers to patients' basic health care questions. Although participating physicians cannot make diagnoses, they are able to make recommendations, according to the Journal. The sites include Med Help, which connects patients with physicians from some of the country's leading hospitals, usually for free, depending on the topic; netlivemd.com, which charges $25 per question; and askadoctor.com, which charges $16.95. "We don't tell them, 'This is what you have,'" Dr. David Tinkelman, a pediatric allergy and immunology professor at National Jewish Medical Center in Denver who works on Med Help, said, adding, "But we try to answer their questions in a way they can understand" (Parker-Pope, Wall Street Journal, 1/7). In related news, the Akron Beacon Journal today looks at Web sites run by hospitals such as the Cleveland Clinic and Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center for patients who want a second opinion from their cancer experts without traveling to the hospital. For a fee, patients can have their records and films reviewed by these specialists, although complicated diagnoses cannot be done online. For the most part, these services confirm existing diagnoses and offer a list of alternatives, according to Dr. C. Martin Harris, executive director of the e-Cleveland Clinic (Powell, Akron Beacon Journal, 1/7).
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