The opposite concept, "information symmetry", suggests that better decisions are reached when all parties have access to the same information. Similar to how car buyers search the Internet before visiting a dealer, patients search Google, Medline and other search engines before visiting their healthcare provider.
Does this increased online access to medical research and treatment information improve the physician-patient dynamic and lead to better medical decisions?
Last year, Google commissioned a study on Physicians and the Internet, which explored among other things, how physicians perceive the Internet's influence on the consumer-physician dynamic. (Since the research is proprietary and confidential, feel free to email me and I will connect you with my contacts on Google's Health team.)
This and other studies support what we already know: patients are searching for symptom-, condition-, diagnosis-, and treatment-related information online before and after they visit their physicians; and doctors' decisions are frequently impacted by patient research.
In his book Super Crunchers, Ian Ayres also discusses how the Internet is "transforming the culture of medicine."
Have you read it yet? What are your thoughts on information symmetry and the patient-physician dynamic. Post a comment!