A Changing World: Health Information Overload


There was a time when people would only pay attention to a physician for medical advice, if they sought counsel at all, and public health in general was less than it should be in this country. Overall health in the United States is still not what it should be, as we are seeing a rise in chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension, as well as an alarming growth in obesity among the young. And despite the constant focus on health care due to the Affordable Care Act and the challenges it poses for the evolving value-based delivery system of health care today, we are still not in a good place in terms of public health.

Among the many reasons health care costs are growing is patient adherence—or lack of it. Unfortunately, people do not always take responsibility for their own health. It’s a problem for health care professionals all the way around—lack of patient information, lack of accountability on the part of their patients in some cases, insufficient communication, and insurance coverage issues—all of these can complicate care.

Today, individuals have many more resources for learning about their own health conditions or those of their families. The Internet, publications, associations, and even publically available government resources can provide consumers with a wide range of information that was previously unavailable. But all of this health information overload can also create more questions than answers—and sometimes it can also reduce complicated diseases into simplistic statements, or worse, offer untested and potentially dangerous remedies.

The best course of action is to rely on all of your health care professionals—from doctors to pharmacists to nurses—and become active in your own health care. Pharmacists are accessible 24/7, in stores, convenient care clinics, chains, independent pharmacies, and hospitals. They are perhaps the best defense against misinformation concerning the most common complaints—and they are able to recommend OTC products and counseling tips to get relief. Just as important, pharmacists are also the medication experts for prescription drugs, drug interactions, and side effects, and can be counted on to clearly explain a patient’s options and recommend when it’s time to see a physician. Isn’t that the first big step toward accountability?

To help our pharmacy audience stay current on important medical topics, we regularly publish online-only articles on the latest news and studies of interest to pharmacists. Our in-depth guide to the new atrial fibrillation guidelines, recently released by the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology, for example, has been very popular. Just as popular is the in-depth guide we published online on the new hypertension treatment guidelines from the Joint National Committee. It’s important for pharmacists to stay up-to-date on these guidelines—and take advantage of the valuable information in Pharmacy Times each month—so they can help ensure that their patients get the best possible care. Thank you for reading!

Mike Hennessy


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