As a health conscious consumer, you probably stay up to date with the latest trends about diet, exercise, and wellness. Doing so demands minimal effort because this information is conveniently available to you via search engines,  health-related mobile apps, and social media platforms.

Unfortunately, even despite your admirable efforts to stay in tiptop health, there are extenuating circumstances. People get sick and accidents happen, but how has our reliance on the Internet altered the medical field as a whole? There are actually a number of ways that the online world has changed the way in which doctors operate, and the way that we as consumers seek medical attention.

Research at Your Own Risk – If you’ve ever been tempted by, or actually followed through with, doing a Google search based on potential health concerns or current symptoms, you’re not alone. We’ve all done it, but it’s okay because everything on the Internet is true right? The downside of seeking medical advice online is that not only could it be false information, but often times it leads people to think the worst. It’s just not a good idea.

Fact vs. Fiction Pharmaceuticals – The existence of online pharmacies has had both positive and negative effects on the medical field. On the plus side, patients can order and refill prescriptions online and have them shipped right to their mailbox. The process is certainly convenient, and in some cases cheaper as well.

Albeit shocking, not everyone has good intentions on the World Wide Web. There is certainly no shortage of scam artists out there trying to sell “magic diet pills” and “energy supplements” to online consumers thirsty for a quick fix. As a rule of thumb, it is best to only purchase medicine online from a reputable dealer. If you are suspicious at all, bounce from the page.

Pleasing the Patient – Having to sit on hold with the doctor’s office, while listening to the same elevator song on repeat, just to schedule an appointment or ask a question about insurance, is not anyone’s idea of convenience. What is convenient, however, is the fact that many doctor’s offices now allow you to schedule appointments online via their website.

In addition, first-time office visits are typically accompanied by a decent stack of paperwork to fill out. These days, however, many physician services locations will either email these forms to you directly prior to your actual appointment, or will have them available for download off the website.

Our society relies so heavily on the Internet and mobile devices for communication and information that some folks are legitimately addicted. It is really difficult to imagine life before these luxuries, but it is also intriguing to think about how things will continue to change as technology advances.