Use of the Internet has grown at a remarkable rate over the past several years, and one of the most common reasons that people use the Internet today is to search for medical information. While the Internet can be a wonderful and powerful tool, providing a convenient source of information for patients, much of that information is too often inaccurate, and biased or incorrect information can lead to dangerous situations.
Unfortunately, there is no governing force policing the Internet to ensure the quality or validity of the information that is out there. There is no editor of the Internet, no quality control inspector. Much of the information available on the Internet is no doubt wonderful, but a good deal of it is simple trash. A search on the Internet for ‘rhinoplasty’ may bring you to the website of The American Society of Plastic Surgeons, but it will also bring you to a variety of other sites: doctor locator services; advertisements for doctors and products; personal websites of individuals; sites displaying rhinoplasty procedures that have gone wrong; and even a site selling ‘rhinoplasty glasses’ which are supposed to augment the nose by wearing them for three minutes every day for two to three weeks.
While patients may certainly be able to weed out some of the more obviously bad sites, other sites offer information that appears valid and authoritative. Because the most accurate information is sure to come from the physicians themselves, this is a good reason for you to provide the information yourself. It should definitely be part of your plastic surgery marketing efforts. You can use the Internet to your benefit to educate your patients. Credible information that you weed out and approve can be posted on your website, providing your patients with all the information that they need and all in one place. You can also provide links on your site in order to refer patients to further credible sources. With the proper information, patients can be better prepared for their procedures, further enabling them to feel more in control of their health and well-being and more confident about their choices.