Want to live longer? Learn to use technology

From the first in-vitro baby to human genome mapping, and a vaccine to prevent cancer – there’s no doubt about it – advances in technology have revolutionized the world of medicine. Now, it’s helping patients take control of their own health.

Dr. Manny Alvarez, senior managing health editor of FoxNews.com, sat down with author Nancy Finn, to talk about her new book “E-Patients Live Longer: The Complete Guide to Managing Health Care Using Technology.”

“An E-patient is an empowered, engaged, educated patient. So it’s somebody who goes into their annual visit with a list of questions for their doctor so that they can take advantage of the 15-minute window when they can see the doctor to get all the information they need at that visit,” Finn said. “I think it’s a long process for most people it takes a while before they feel that they can participate fully in their health care issues, and work with their health care providers as part of a team – which is when they begin to engage.”

Finn stressed the importance of patients becoming a part of their own health care team, saying that a combination of the increasing number of health care issues and a lack of information available from health care providers for newly diagnosed patients can lead to confusion.

However, technology is changing the way we interact with health care providers, and improving access to quality health information.  But according to Finn, it’s up to patients to utilize new technology to ultimately improve their care.

“You go to your doctor, you have 15 minutes, you discuss a bunch of things, the doctor perhaps gives you a medication – doesn’t have really enough time to explain in detail the side effects and the various aspects of the medication – you need to find out more,” said Finn. “You’re a patient, you need to empower yourself and take the initiative to find out more about that medication and about the treatment that they’re proposing.”

But patients beware. Not all health websites are created equal, and navigating the Internet for credible information can be tricky.

“There are many, many good websites,” Finn said. “There are also many that, you know, are questionable, and one thing to be wary of that I advise people is that if a website has a lot of advertising, you know that some of the information could be tainted.”

Finn suggested visiting sites like HealthFinder.gov and MedlinePlus, where she said information is vetted and credible.

Over the past few years, since the explosion of social media websites like Facebook, sites have popped up all over the web that are dedicated to connecting patients dealing with different diagnoses and providing information and resources these patients and their families.

It’s sites like PatientsLikeMe.com, sites like HealthGrades.com where you can research which doctor to use, and what hospitals have good success, and those are evaluated by patients … and rated, Finn added.