Meaningful patient education online requires a number of attributes

LETTER — Posted April 2, 2012

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Regarding “Physicians and hospitals must make websites more patient-friendly, study says” (Article, March 5): Patient education vis-à-vis the Internet is about accessibility, but also must include elements of transparency and the willingness for the health care provider to display a desire to engage in social media.

Simply writing at the “wrong” level doesn’t address the entire problem. Writing at the “11th-grade” level [as noted in the article] is actually higher than the recommended “8th-grade” level for the rest of the blogosphere.

There is a dearth of credible health information created by transparent physicians — those who are not afraid to display human qualities, yet are doctors.

In addition, more value will be gleaned from authors willing to create social media conversation, that is, a willingness to engage in digital dialogue; answer emails, answer comments on a website, etc.

Our focus as physicians should be to embrace social media and the Internet in the same way our patients have already done so. Accessibility is only the first step.

Randall Wong, MD, Bethesda, Md.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2012/04/02/edlt0402.htm.

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