Reasons the Internet cannot replace my doctor

There are a few things you should know about me: I love the Internet and the online patient community, and I love technology. However, while I might not always see eye-to-eye with my medical team (although we’re all in a pretty good place now), that doesn’t mean that I do not see the huge importance they play in helping me live well with asthma.

And with that, I share with you reasons the Internet cannot replace my doctor (without getting into the 7039001 [to the power of two] legal ones):

  1. While apps tell me that I can do spirometry via my iPhone, I kind of believe that is bogus. How the heck can the microphone pick up my lung function? I don’t believe it can. I also don’t think my iPhone can check my hemoglobin or send me out for a six-minute walk test (even if that was by accident, it did capture useful data!)
  2. As John will agree, lots of doctors suck at listening to lung sounds—y’think the Internet can do any better? Nope.
  3. A doctor inside the internet cannot see me. They can’t pick up on subtle hints that I might not be doing so well, or tell when I’m getting frustrated about something, or share in my excitement when something good is happening. At least not nearly as well as a physical doctor can.
  4. The internet, because of its inability to see me and develop a relationship with me, will not know if my care needs to be handed off to someone else. Because the Internet thinks it can do anything and thinks it should do everything.
    Most doctors, on the other hand, acknowledge that they are not Jack-of-all-Trades-type-people, and will refer you to the right specialist or educator you need to see.
  5. Symptom checkers online? They always, always will tell you that you have acute sinusitis. Which is untrue if you have, like, allergic rhinitis instead. The internet cannot—and should NEVER—diagnose you. Ever.
    Okay? Okay.
    (Sidebar: Bonus if you got that The Fault in Our Stars reference which I didn’t intend.)
  6. Really, the internet doesn’t like fax too much. Who the heck is going to fax my prescription to the pharmacy? Not the Internet, I’m sure.
  7. Unless Uber, and thus, Uber Health comes to my city, which it’s still looking iffy on, I still have to leave my house for a flu shot. So I guess my doctor is—at least some years—convenient for that. (This year is not one of those years, unless I want to make a separate appointment which is inconvenient.) Still, the Internet cannot give me a flu shot. (And don’t tell me to watch an instructional video. While my doctor friend would tell me otherwise and that it’s easy, that’s a bad idea.)

Case in point: The internet is great. It’s super important to me, and I’m sure it’s super important to you, too. However, ensure that—even if they are frustrating at times—you don’t use the internet as a substitute for having a good working relationship with your doctor.

Oh, plus, Reason Number 8 the Internet Cannot Replace My Doctor?

  1. That would be too convenient. Of course. ;)

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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