Patient empowerment according to Professor Peter Schulz

The status of online health infosphere: Peter J. Schulz, professor and Health Communication Specialist, talks about it in a sneak preview of the interview realized for ICS Magazine next issue

As confirmed by recent studies, the number of the people that do online researches on specific diseases is constantly increasing. There’s a lot of talk about the dangers hiding behind the combination Web-health, but what are the opportunities? To professor Peter J. Schulz, director of the Institute of Communication and Health of the University of Italian Switzerland, there are many and yet unexpressed opportunities.

Free access to information allows, for instance, to reduce the time of diagnosis. “Let’s just think of the people suffering from a rare disease: in the past, patients had to wait years to get a proper diagnosis” – pointed out Schulz. The Web represents an opportunity for patients, but also for doctors themselves. “To mention another aspect – he added – I’d like to report what some doctors have told me: according to them, the mere fact that today patients get information on their disease before seeing a specialist may represent a very interesting challenge for health professionals”.

Therefore, the Web is not only the keeper of misleading news but it can also be a source of excellent information, as evidenced by the American portal Mayoclinic. In order to combine the opportunities with the dangers hiding behind the liberalization of health information, it is important to promote “an education of patients or citizens, to make them more aware of their own limits and teach them to distinguish, to quote Plato’s Socrates, between what they know and what they don’t”, concluded Schulz.



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