In spite of all of our teachers' and bosses' warnings that it's not a trustworthy source of information, we all rely on Wikipedia. Not only when we can’t remember the name of that guy from that movie, which is a fairly low-risk use, but also when we find a weird rash or are just feeling a little off and we’re not sure why. One in three Americans have tried to diagnose a medical condition with the help of the Internet, and a new report says doctors are just as drawn to Wikipedia’s flickering flame.
According to the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics’ “Engaging patients through social media” report, Wikipedia is the top source of healthcare information for both doctors and patients. Fifty percent of physicians use Wikipedia for information, especially for specific conditions.
Generally, more people turn to Wikipedia for rare diseases than common conditions. The top five conditions looked up on the site over the past year were: tuberculosis, Crohn’s disease, pneumonia, multiple sclerosis, and diabetes. Patients tend to use Wikipedia as a “starting point for their online self education,” the report says. It also found a “direct correlation between Wikipedia page visits and prescription volumes.”