Medical Search Engines
About 50% of adults in the US are e-patients. E-patients (and/or their relatives and friends) look for online health information or guidance, and use support groups. According to one survey, e-patients ranked online groups higher than either GPs or specialists for convenience, cost-effectiveness, emotional support, compassion/empathy, help in dealing with death and dying, medical referrals, practical coping tips, in-depth information and "most likely to be there for me in the long run" [as well] as the best source of technical medical knowledge.
I think the more [accurate] information a patient has, the better. I'm also looking forward to the emergence of health group blogs. In the meantime, if you're new to this e-patient thing, here are a couple of good specialized health search engines to get you started:
Medem: run by the leading medical societies in the U.S.; has a good Medical Library section.
MedlinePlus: run by NIH's National Library of Medicine; has information on Clinical Trials and Human Research Studies.
PubMed: run by NIH's National Library of Medicine; good for article searches.