How to Find if Online Health Information Harmful or Helpful?
Once upon a time you would get sick, you’d go to the doctor, get a diagnosis, take your medicine or go through a treatment plan and that was that. You never questioned the doctor or his or her knowledge. Maybe you’d get a second opinion, but it would be another doctor.
Today, thanks to the internet, everyone is a medical expert. There are tens of hundreds of sites there to answer your medical questions - from irregular freckles to irregular sleep patterns. From eating healthy to eating bizarre weeds and herbs.
The minute it’s online, on a site that looks credible, that have medical sounding titles - we take the advice at face value. There’s no question in our mind that the dangerous disorder this site has diagnosed us with through 4 simple questions is the absolute truth. Why should we doubt it? The Gods of the Internet of put their stamp of approval? So we run to our doctors, diagnosis in hand and brace ourselves for the worst or on the flip side, ignore potentially life threatening disorders because the “Medical Site” told us that there was nothing to be concerned about .
Do you know who’s behind these sites? Are they actual doctors or others with a specific agenda?
“ Approximately 75% of all medical information readily found online is misleading all the way to downright dangerous” says Dr. Mustafa K. Calik, a Cardiovascular surgeon and Co-Founder of CareDir . “The majority of patients that came to see me had already done their ‘homework’ by the time they got to me and were either literally scared to death or overly nonchalant about their potential diagnosis. It alarmed me greatly that there was such a wealth of misinformation out there.”
Many of the “Medical Sites” are not run by professional MD’s at all - they are owned by Pharma companies who seek to push their drugs and devices to the masses and mask their push with screenings and diagnostic tools to nudge people towards seeking treatment that entail drugs and medication that aren’t necessarily warranted. The Federal Trade Commission in the USA estimates that over 25 million people will use the internet to search for health info rmation, and of roughly 100,000 “Medical and Health” sites, fewer than half have their content reviewed by doctors. Additionally, Web search rankings are often based on relevance and click-through rates, which can skew the displayed results and researchshows that the vast majority of people will take the order of the displayed results as an indication of probability of potential diagnoses. And it’s not just self diagnosis - in the US roughly 89% of parents have reportedly searched the Internet for information about their children's health concerns, potentially leading to negligence and misdiagnosis. The best intentions certainly can be paving a dangerous path.
Dr. Calik and his partners have decided to put an end to medical misinformation on the Web. “We realize that the internet is a primary source of information for the masses, their go-to Advisor for all important things, but we want to make sure that the advice that they’re receiving is accurate, helpful and timely.” Calik and his partners created CareDir – a site dedicated to accurate, Medical based information.
Caredir ® is an online health resource moderated by physicians which provides reliable, accurate and fast information about current medical conditions with a unique “traffic light” labeling system that alerts to the gravity of the nature of the information – red would be a section discussing potentially dangerous diagnoses like Cancer whereas green simply might be health information that is good to know.
Caredir analyzes symptoms that the patient might be experiencing with an option to email it to themselves or print it out to show their physician, showing the entire flow of the questions asked and answers given in order to further investigate each step of the process. Health news is categorized by gender and age, making it easier for anyone to search for relevant information from their region.
Dr. Calik has been impassioned about correct medical information dispersion since his Medical School training. “As a young medical student, I felt a lump just below my ear. I ran asked an ENT professor that I was interning with to look at the lump. The professor felt and prodded it, then told me that it was a parotid tumor that had to be removed. I nervously asked what the risks and consequences of surgery would be. The answer was devastating: he told me that I faced the possibility of dying or being left paralyzed on one side. The entire conversation lasted just two minutes but my world had fallen apart. After reading more about the topic, I thankfully discovered that a parotid tumor isn’t necessarily cancerous and can be removed at very low risk. From that moment I realized the danger of a “shallow” diagnosis. This was before the days of the internet. But I took it as a personal mission to always ensure that my patients had all the information they needed about their health concerns.”
25 years later, Calik is addressing the dangerous availability of unreliable medical and treatment information on the internet and combating it with CareDir. “We know that not everyone is a physician, nor do they have a spouse or relative who is a doctor and often, waiting to see a physician for answers, or not having the funds or health insurance to do so, merely delays diagnosis. We want to provide the best, most reliable and user friendly resources to ensure correct information and a call to action which is heeded when necessary.”
Caredir strives to provide streamlined access to targeted health information within 1 minute with no disruption from irrelevant content, distracting images, videos or ads that might bias or skew a patient’s reading on the subject. Caredir also provides referenced health support and solutions for family and friends so they can better understand and support the patient who is undergoing diagnosis and treatment. Caredir also contains scientifically graded and referenced CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine) content for diseases/conditions, pregnancy and lactation periods with the assurance that all Caredir’s content is reviewed and assessed by staff physicians and covers all criteria published by FDA and National Institute of Health (NIH).
Although a new start up, Caredir ® was named the winner of 3 Stevie® Awards in a row (Start-up of the Year, Best New Product or Service of the Year and Health Products & Services) at the recent 12th Annual International Business Awards. This was out of 3,700 nominations from organizations of all sizes and in virtually every industry with a wide range of categories. “It’s wonderful to receive this acknowledgment,” stated Dr. Calik, “but this is only the beginning. We are on a mission to make sure the world is a safer place. Over 12 million Americans are misdiagnosed each year and this is just the tip of the iceberg. We believe that everyone has the right to accurate, unbiased and free medical information that is easily accessible and easy to understand. We plan to make Caredir the number 1 health and medical resource around the world.”
Contact: Mustafa K.Calik, MD
Cardio Vascular Surgeon
Co-founder; Caredir ® and Wiki1001
About Caredir ®
Caredir ® is an online health resource moderated by physicians which provides reliable, referenced and fast information about current medical conditions with traffic lights labeling system, answers for symptoms you may be experiencing with an e-maling /printing option for delivering to your physician, labeled complementery & alternative treatments and even health news categorized by gender and age from around the world.