The Best Web Sites for Doctors
Bell, Carrie Sears, Medical Economics
Now you can access a world of medical information without leaving your desk, and most of it is free.
When FP Gil Solmon gets called about a patient at night, he doesn't wait until he's back at the office, surrounded by medical books and journals, to research the latest treatment recommendations. He turns on his home PC, logs on to the Internet, and surfs to his favorite medical Web sites.
"I can get an answer, or at least an idea, about a medical problem very quickly from the Net," says the Malibu, CA, physician. He also uses the Net to E-mail colleagues, keep current on his CME, access patient-information handouts, and locate journal articles he has read but can't find on his bookshelf.
Solomon is one of an increasing number of doctors who use the Web as a professional tool. Though some venture only so far as their medical associations' Web sites, others are tapping into a much broader-and growing-array of online medical resources.
Which are the best of those resources? We asked computer-savvy doctors to name the medical Web sites with the highest-quality content and most user-friendly formats. Here, in alphabetical order, are their picks. American Academy of Family Physicians www.aafp.org
Though the AAFP created this site for its 88,000 members, you don't have to be a member to use it. Anyone can access fulltext articles from the past few years of American Family Physician or download any of 200 patient-information handouts at a related Web site (familydoctor.org). The home page for this straightforward and easy-to-navigate site has 20 direct links to available information.
Recently, when one of Solomon's female patients came in complaining of excess hair, he remembered American Family Physician had run an article on hirsutism in women. "Rather than sifting through magazines, I searched the Web site," he says.
Solomon and Santa Monica, CA, FP Larry Dardick both use the AAFP handouts to instruct patients on topics such as measuring blood pressure at home or using a nasal steroid. "The handouts are excellent, and they save me time," says Solomon. Adds Dardick: "You can download the information or have patients who use the Internet access it themselves."
Solomon and Dardick, both AAFP members, also use the site to update their CME. Recently, when one of Dardick's insurers wanted documentation of his CME for the past two years, he simply downloaded it from the AAFP site.
American Medical Association
This site covers a lot of ground-from medical news and politics to health policy and public health to science. Much of the information is open to the public, but some is for the AMAs 295,000 members only.
Features include abstracts of articles and tables of contents from JAMA and other AMA journals; "AMA Physician Select, for getting information on colleagues; forums where AMA members can discuss specific issues with other members; and JAMA "Information Centers" on HIV/AIDS, asthma, migraine, and women's health.
For cancer research, the National Cancer Institute's CancerNet Web site is hard to beat, according to Dardick. The site provides access to PDQ, NCI's comprehensive cancer database; CANCERLIT, NCI's bibliographic database; cancerTrials, NCI's clinical-trials information center; as well as news, fact sheets, and other resources. Information is "reviewed regularly by oncology experts and is based on the latest research."
To help tailor searches to your needs, CancerNet asks you to indicate whether you're a patient, health professional, or basic researcher. "If you click on 'Health Professionals,' you get the kind of information doctors want," says Dardick, who teaches courses on the Internet for doctors. "In addition to PDQ, CancerNet has access to many citations on various types of cancer and treatment. It's an excellent site-very well set up. …