The Internet is now a major source of medical information. Surveys carried out in 2004 found that of the 8 million elderly citizens surveyed, only 66% searched online for medical information. The elderly are using the Internet not only to look up their symptoms but also search for treatments and medicines. Self-medication is not exactly the best course of action and patients should not ignore doctors completely. However, the use of the internet has made patients and other people more knowledgeable and empowered to make their best decisions. Hospitals, clinics and private practices including research facilities are now using the social media for effective and easy communications with patients and staff alike. The social media helps doctors and health givers to keep in constant touch with patients, answer questions, carry out public awareness campaigns and reach community members who need their help and attention. Many highly developed sites also offer discussions with experienced nurses and doctors about medical issues which are used as reminders to people to be sure to get regular medical tests and vaccines. Such projects were initially used mostly on college campuses, but are now being effectively used by many conventional institutions and individuals, especially senior citizens. Information technology has made patients care better, safer and more consistent than before.
Doctors and nurse use small portable computers for recording the medical history of patients and to ensure that patients are getting the correct treatment. The databases of these small hand-held computers record vital signs with patient medicines and other instructions to be referred to whenever needed. Because all medical institutions are using information technology for storing medical records, patients have much easier access to their personal information so that they are aware of the treatments they are receiving and the procedures that they are undergoing. The very large amount of information stored in these databases is used for medical research. With so much patient disease information, researchers can now better understand the causes of diseases which would mean greater breakthroughs.
The cell phone has made it easier to reach doctors. This has benefitted both patients and doctors. Most doctors have a Smartphone which enables them to access thousands of pages of medical textbooks at the touch of a button. The Smartphone also has capabilities to access medical databases for referring to case studies and also to check out complete patient history. Doctors, nurses and other staff routinely use e-mails, texts, videos and conference facilities for consultation and advice from colleagues from different parts of the world. This modern and innovative technology is now called telemedicine.