The too informed patient in the age of WebMD

Video Produced by Gregory Warner and Mara Zepeda. Created by Sebastienne Mundheim of White Box Theatre, acted by Charles DelMarcelle and Doug Greene, and voiced by two actors from Philadelphia's Pig Iron Theatre Company

Health care consumers have access to an increasing stream of health news on television and radio, and a bottomless well of information online. There are over 3,000 iPhone apps having to do with health from an iPhone stethoscope to tools for managing your medical history or finding the right meds for your ailments.

All of this access to health care information has changed how we think about our symptoms and how we think about medicine. Has this also changed how we deal with our doctor? To illustrate this point, we invited two puppets (voiced by two actors from Philadelphia's Pig Iron Theatre Company) into the studio for a skit we call "The too informed patient."

For more on this topic, visit Marketplace Money's Consumer's Guide to Health Care, produced in association with a special episode of Marketplace Money that airs this weekend from Philadelphia, the birthplace of modern health care.

About the author

Gregory Warner is a senior reporter covering the economics and business of healthcare for the entire Marketplace portfolio.
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Funny skit, but it really speaks about a lack of regulation of pharmaceutical marketing and failure of communication between doctor and patient. The too informed patient? Not likely.

I think this represents what you get when doctors stop listening to patients who don't know what to say. Patients should get in the driver's seat, but should also take drivers ed.

There is no such thing as a "too informed" patient. The puppet-patient in this video isn't too informed. In fact, he's uninformed about what is really wrong with him - maybe.

He's definitely uninformed about how to collaborate with his doctor.

And the puppet-doctor should be ashamed for signing the form for the clinical trial.

The problem here is that what was probably intended to be a parody instead gives fuel to the fire doctors are fanning that patients spend too much time on the internet researching what's wrong with them. The real fact is that patients don't know how to go about sharing what they have learned and neither doctors nor patients take the time to discuss the findings.

See what others have to say at the About.com Patient Empowerment site:


In case anyone is interested in the national survey data on this question:

"Now thinking about all the sources you turn to when you need information or assistance in dealing with health or medical issues, please tell me if you use any of the following sources..."

* 86% of all adults ask a health professional, such as a doctor.
* 68% of all adults ask a friend or family member.
* 57% of all adults use the internet.
* 54% use books or other printed reference material.
* 33% contact their insurance provider.
* 5% use another source not mentioned in the list.

See: The Social Life of Health Information (Pew Internet Project, June 11, 2009). Available at: http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2009/8-The-Social-Life-of-Health-Info...

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