by Leslee B. Cochrane, M.D.
Living in the Information Age has many advantages and these days there seems to be a program or “app” for just about everything. Take my iphone for example – I have a flashlight app to find my way in the dark and a map app for driving directions. I regularly use a medication app called Epocrates, and use my phone to review and order medications, calculate drug dosages, and send faxes. Despite all these benefits, the Information Age has also created new problems such as identity theft, internet scams and information overload.
Information overload refers to the stress and difficulty in making decisions which results from the presence of too much information. For example; did you know that Starbucks offers over 87,000 different drink choices on their menu? The effects of the information age become even more daunting when applied to medical decision making. When I typed the phrase “breast cancer treatment options” into Google just now, I received over 6,160,000 results. To make matters worse, how would you tell which of these web sites had accurate and reliable information?
When patients and families are facing difficult medical treatment decisions, I advise them to exercise caution when reviewing information from the Internet. I suggest they seek answers from the most qualified experts available. When they see that expert, ask them the names of two or three physicians they would recommend for a second or third opinion.
When it comes to medical treatment decisions, having good information is absolutely essential if you want to make good decisions. Once presented with treatment options be sure to ask about the risks, benefits and alternatives. A good physician will welcome such questions and can direct you to reliable sources where you can obtain further information.
Despite the fact that the Apple App store has over 725,000 applications available, I could not find an app designed to manage information overload. Please don’t let an Apple a day keep the doctor away when it comes to making your medical decisions.
For information or questions regarding Hospice Care please contact Hospice of the Valleys at 951-200-7800.