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Doctors are going to have to realize that often patients are doing the absolutely best thing for themselves by going online before the office visit. Clinicians will need to learn for themselves which are the best sources of patient-oriented Internet-based information so that when the patient does go in confused by wrong or poorly organized online data, the efforts can be redirected as opposed to dismissed.

Of course, many patients are going to discover the best online health information way before their doctors do. They, too, have a responsibility: patients will need to signal to their doctor how they conducted their search in a way that was smart, directed and grounded in evidence. Only then will the Google stack be recognized and used in a helpful, not counterproductive, fashion.

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