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Insidermedicine in the Medical Post - December 5, 2006

For patients surfing the Web, there’s no shortage of information on health topics, diseases and treatments. But the quality or sources of the information may be questionable.

 

 

 

Insidermedicine in the Medical Post

MEDIA: Insider Medicine Web site battles health misinformation

MDs and med students update site with video news stories five days of the week

For patients surfing the Web, there’s no shortage of information on health topics, diseases and treatments. But the quality or sources of the information may be questionable.

 

That’s why Drs. Sanjay Sharma and Susan Sharma launched the online video health news site Insider Medicine (www.insidermedicine.ca): to provide patients with accurate, up-to-date, evidence-based health information.

“A lot of people come into my office and they’ve got lots of information that they’ve generated from downloading. And a lot of it is terrible misinformation, or is being written to push a particular service or product,” says Dr. Sanjay Sharma, associate professor of ophthalmology and epidemiology at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., and chief editor of Insider Medicine. “So we thought, let’s see if we can actually create high-quality video news stories that are really unbiased and are really evidence-based.”

He notes a survey published last month by Pew Internet and American Life Project found that despite the large number of people using the Internet to find health information, few check the source of the information or the date it was posted.

“That’s a huge issue because people are basing decisions for themselves or their family members on information that’s either not current or not really citing clinical scientific data,” he says.

Dr. Sanjay Sharma started the Insider Medicine project with his wife, Dr. Susan Sharma—a family practitioner with Queen’s University’s Health, Counselling and Disability Services who is also the anchor of Insider Medicine’s reporting team-. They have since built a team of physicians and medical students who update the site five days a week. The team shoots and uploads several videos daily, covering health news from peer-reviewed journals and medical symposia.?

Insider Medicine is searchable by keyword, disease or health category, and its bank of video feeds covers conditions ranging from SIDS to Alzheimer’s disease.

Much of the information is aimed at an audience that has a strong interest in the condition or therapy in question, and the presentations lean toward the more sophisticated end of the patient information scale.

“It’s not so much a daily health news thing as much as it’s for people who have active medical disease,” Dr. Sanjay Sharma says of many of the Insider Medicine stories. However, the news team plans to cover general health topics as well.

The video format was chosen for its presentation potential and the immediacy it provides by giving patients health information directly from medical experts.?

For instance, in a recent segment on macular degeneration, Dr. Sanjay Sharma used a model eye to illustrate the information and reviewed a retinal angiogram. Other segments will show minor procedures shot in the hospital or other clinical settings.

“I think that for people to be able to see that, and the fact that these are all physicians or medical people talking about it, I think it’s certainly an improvement over print alone.”

http://www.medicalpost.com/opinions/columns/article.jsp?content=20061204_183935_3884