Saturday, September 15, 2007

Online Social Networking Brings Further Change to Doctor-patient Relationships

Online Social Networking Brings Further Change to Doctor-patient Relationships .

"Doctors are having to change the way they practice, from being the sole providers of care to guiding patients and interpreting information for them. That represents a fundamental change in the way doctors and patients interact," says Len Lichtenfeld, MD, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society. The society's Web site, -- which has long offered features like e-mail message boards and online chat rooms -- recently added new features including e-mailed health-screening reminders, virtual communities around specific cancers, and private online networks where patients can keep friends and family updated on their treatment and prognosis.
In addition, is exploring the concept of a "Cancer Wiki," a feature that would allow healthcare providers and patient-advocacy organizations around the country to list cancer-related services they offer (such as wellness classes or support groups) and would allow patients to post comments on their experiences with those services.
Lichtenfeld -- who authors a blog on new cancer developments for the Cancer Society's Web site -- believes online social-networking in healthcare isn't merely a passing fad. "To think that medicine isn't going to move in this direction is to deny the obvious. These communities will continue to grow," he says.

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