Picture this: It’s Monday morning and you are finally able to get through to the assistant at your GP practice. You are tired and feel that each question she asks over the phone is just a way to get you to admit that you are actually ok, and a GP visit is not needed. Despite you confirming you have no fever and no cough, you feel you need to be seen for this throat ache that seems to be getting worse since the weekend. You mention how worried you are about the white spots on your tonsils and that it is not normal that you have not been able to eat solids for the past day. You just want to be seen by a doctor. The assistant puts you on hold, you wait in desperation and then suddenly you are told: The GP will see you today at 09:30 am.
Once you get to the GP’s office, you repeat the same thing you told that assistant earlier that morning.
The GP performs a physical examination. He asks you to open your mouth, flashes a torch in it, inspects your throat, feels your neck for swollen lymph glands, measures your temperature and says ‘ah you have no fever’ .
You sit back down opposite the GP and as he turns towards his computer to type your story, up comes Google. He hits away on his keyboard, a few clicks of the mouse further, turns to you and says ‘you have a sore throat, its viral, no need to worry, take paracetamol 4 times a day, fluids and if it does not get any better in the next few days, give my assistant a call’.
This is not what you expected. You leave the room frustrated and well pretty much angry. “So I came all the way here just to be told to take paracetamol? And did he just google my symptoms?” are some of the things that go through your mind.
While it is frustrating that you feel your symptoms are not being taken seriously and worst of all you think your GP does not know what he is doing because he had to Google them.
Here are some basic facts about what GPs do when they use their computer during a consultation.
As you know, Google is the number 1 search engine in the world. It is a platform GPs use to visit other websites which are not widely known to the general public. They visit these sites to make sure that they are keeping up to date with clinical practices and work according to the most up-to-date scientific evidence.
Here are the top 6 websites GP’s visit during your consultation:
- NHG standaarden also known as Dutch General Practitioners’ association is a website packed with evidence based literature and guidelines so that GPs can manage and treat their patients. It is widely visited by GPs and is the main reference point for general practice. Some guidelines are accessible to the general public but membership is required to access the full website and other e-learning modules.
- Thuisarts.nl is another widely used website within GP’s. It gets over 3 million hits and is the number one website GP’s refer their patients to for more information regarding symptoms. It is created by GP’s for their patients and so the information is very much in line with what a GP will do or say. Because the target market is laymen, the content does not contain medical jargon. There are videos and easy to follow steps on how to manage all kinds of symptoms.
- Farmacotherapeutisch kompas is a website GP’s will most likely visit during a consultation in order to be sure of medication dosage, side effects, interactions, allergies and more. It is an independent website for all health professionals in the Netherlands and is full of information for all registered medications. There is also a section for medication costs which is a topic for another blog.
- Huidziekten is basically a digital pocketbook for dermatology. This website offers extensive information about skin diseases and the target group are not only GPs but it is also widely referred to patients a source of information regarding their skin disease. There are many visual pictures of skin lesions which GPs use as reference when they diagnose skin diseases. Although somewhat outdated in terms of look and user-friendliness, this website offers very detailed information about possibly every skin disease known. What makes it so popular amongst GPs is that it also offers various options for ointments needed to treat the most common skin diseases.
- Kinderformularium is a popular website amongst GPs especially when prescribing medication to children under the age of 12 years. Given that prescriptions for children are based on weight and age, this website is an ideal source for GPs.
- Apotheek is a website created by pharmacists for health professionals and the public. It has a great user-interface and provides easy to understand information about medication, how they should be used, side-effects, interactions. The website refers in many parts back to thuisarts.nl. GPs will visit this website if they want to show patients how to use certain medications. The website is packed with instructional videos from how to self-inject insulin to how to use inhalers or insert suppositories. The videos are even available in different languages.
So next time a GP is on Google ask him or her what it is they are looking at and if there are any relevant sites that they can recommend to you to read at your own pace.
We realise that the sites mentioned above are in Dutch. HelloDoc Health works according to many of these national clinical practice guidelines. If you have any questions about the information on the above mentioned sites or other medical information sources leave a comment below.
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