Researchers: Medical Societies Must Guide Docs on Googling Patients | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

Researchers: Medical Societies Must Guide Docs on Googling Patients

February 2, 2015
by Gabriel Perna
| Reprints
Googling a patient will become commonplace and medical societies must provide guidelines for doctors on best practices, according to researchers at the Penn State College of Medicine. 
The researchers say that currently doctors do not have set guidelines on when to Google a patient, even if it could be relevant and helpful. Maria Baker, Ph.D. an associate professor of medicine, says she had a patient consult her regarding prophylactic mastectomies. The family history for the patient couldn't be verified and a report revealed that a melanoma the patient listed had actually been a non-cancerous, shape-changing mole. When Baker Googled the patient, she found out that they were trying to capitalize on being a cancer patient. 
"Googling a patient can undermine the trust between a patient and his or her provider, but in some cases it might be ethically justified," Baker said in a statement. "Healthcare providers need guidance on when they should do it and how they should deal with what they learn."
Baker and her colleagues came up with 10 possible Googling situations. This includes duty to re-contact/warn patient of possible harm; evidence of doctor shopping; evasive responses to logical clinical questions; claims in a patient's personal or family history that seem improbably; discrepancies between a patient's verbal history and clinical documentation; and more. She says groups like the American Medical Association and the Federation of State Medical Boards provide general guidance on appropriate Internet and social media use, they have yet to address patient-targeted Web searches.


NewYork-Presbyterian, Walgreens Partner on Telemedicine Initiative

NewYork-Presbyterian and Walgreens are collaborating to bring expanded access to NewYork-Presbyterian’s healthcare through new telemedicine services, the two organizations announced this week.

ONC Releases Patient Demographic Data Quality Framework

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) developed a framework to help health systems, large practices, health information exchanges and payers to improve their patient demographic data quality.

AMIA, Pew Urge Congress to Ensure ONC has Funding to Implement Cures Provisions

The Pew Charitable Trusts and the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) have sent a letter to congressional appropriators urging them to ensure that ONC has adequate funding to implement certain 21st Century Cures Act provisions.

Former Michigan Governor to Serve as Chair of DRIVE Health

Former Michigan Governor John Engler will serve as chair of the DRIVE Health Initiative, a campaign aimed at accelerating the U.S. health system's transition to value-based care.

NJ Medical Group Launches Statewide HIE, OneHealth New Jersey

The Medical Society of New Jersey (MSNJ) recently launched OneHealth New Jersey, a statewide health information exchange (HIE) that is now live.

Survey: 70% of Providers Using Off-Premises Computing for Some Applications

A survey conducted by KLAS Research found that 70 percent of healthcare organizations have moved at least some applications or IT infrastructure off-premises.