When the Internet became widely accessible to the public about 20 years ago, it was truly a revolutionary event in the history of personal computing. It gave users access to a vast library of information that they could tap into without leaving home.
Thanks to this technology, the Internet plays an important role in the area of healthcare. Whether it helps identify an illness, provides training, gives useful tips, or is used as a means to deliver care, the Internet has become such a critical resource that it would be difficult not to use it in some capacity when addressing any health-related issue.
Online Resources from Medical Experts
Several useful sites have emerged that provide useful medical information in layman’s terms. These sites amount to online encyclopedias that anyone can reference to learn more about their particular issues, or to become a more informed patient in general.
The Mayo Clinic has long been known for its expertise treating especially difficult cases for which regular hospitals and clinics had no answers. These same experts have put together an online database that allows users to learn more about a given ailment, or symptoms affecting them or a loved one.
You can search for ailments by name or symptom to arrive at an informative article that steers you in the right direction when seeking treatment. If you had pain in your heel, for example, you would click on the Symptoms link, then ‘H’ for heel pain. From there you would then look for articles on specific conditions.
If you knew that your specific heel pain was due to plantar fasciitis, you could click the Diseases and conditions link, then choose the ‘P’ link and choose that specific ailment in the list of article links. Whether you have general symptoms or know what the problem is, the site is structured to help you find the right article. You can also use the site to search for tests and procedures, and for drugs and supplements.
If the Mayo Clinic’s site doesn’t work for you, WebMD, Healthline, and MedicineNet are other sites that you can go to for medical information.
If you want to be an elite doctor with a Johns Hopkins-like background, there is no substitute for the course, residency, and testing requirements that have to be fulfilled. However, if you want training in other less demanding medical professions you can study at least some of the coursework online.
For those wanting to be a paramedic or EMT, many community colleges offer hybrid training that combines traditional coursework with online classes. Hands-on work like clinical studies or patient assessment cannot be done on your home computer, but you can fulfill some requirements like CPR certification online.
A combination of factors like the high cost of medical care and the proliferation of broadband has led to the growth of telemedicine. This practice allows patients to consult doctors either through a video session at home or by visiting a kiosk in a clinic or pharmacy attended by a nurse, also with a video connection to the doctor.
This allows people who lived in remote, underserved areas to get treatment for minor problems, saving them the inconvenience of driving long distances for something relatively simple to address. It is also useful in underdeveloped countries where access to a doctor is limited.
Telemedicine is big business in 2015, and it is only expected to get bigger in the next few years. Mordor Intelligence predicts that the market for telemedicine will grow to $34 billion by 2020.
Living a Healthy Lifestyle
Health-related sites don’t necessarily address the treatment side of the healthcare picture. Prevention also plays an important role. Many sites provide useful tips about diet and exercise that allow readers to take steps to get their weight and numbers like cholesterol and triglycerides under control. It’s nice to be able to get treatment when you need it, but even better to not need treatment in the first place.
The availability of high-speed Internet has been a blessing to anyone seeking online resources for prevention, treatment, and education about the many aspects of healthcare. You still have to make the effort to get the information, but it’s much easier to obtain and doesn’t require nearly as much driving as it used to.