Some of you may remember when Dr. Val Jones of Revolution Health interviewed me for their site. Now I have the opportunity to return the favor as Dr. Val has just launched her own company, Better Health, a multimedia enterprise with a mission to provide better health information to people like us, who have to work pretty hard for it. You can get to Dr. Val’s website by clicking here.
1. Dr. Val, you have more energy than just about anyone I’ve met. Where does your drive and inspiration for better health information come from? When did you become so passionate about better health and why?
Dr. Val: My passion for accurate health information blossomed during my time as a medical reviewer for a consumer health website. I was astonished by the poor quality of a lot of the health content, and how potentially harmful it could be for patients to follow its advice. As I researched the basis for many of the medical claims being made I became aware of an entire pseudoscience industry – where writers just parroted the same misinformation they found online to get a quick buck.
One day I reviewed an article that recommended parents take their autistic children to a DAN practitioner for chelation therapy. Some children have actually died from this treatment, and there’s certainly no evidence that it improves autism in any way. It made me so upset that I decided to do everything I could to help people find trustworthy information and to protect them from false and misleading medical claims.
2. Can you tell us a little about your company and why you started it? How is it different from other medical sites on the Internet today?
Better Health is an online media company focused on health education through medical blogging. Better Health’s medical blogger team includes some of the most popular nurse, biotech and physician bloggers on the Internet. They are available for consulting and writing. We give 10% of all post tax profits to non-profit health organizations.
Better Health’s ultimate goal is to create an economic model to support talented medical bloggers and further disseminate their opinions online. It is my hope that by helping to support them, there will be a shift in the kind of health news out there – more thoughtful analyses of policy/advocacy work (created by MDs and RNs) will replace press releases and cheesy pundit opinions. One day, Better Health may become a dominant force in online health information, replacing the sites that rely on repurposing pseudoscientific health articles.
I wanted to create a company that is ethical, transparent, and supportive of both bloggers and non-profit health organizations.
3. Tell us about your blog, Getting Better with Dr. Val. You’ve published interviews with a lot of prominent individuals. How has it been to interact with such prominent and talented people? What has been your favorite interview to date?
Dr. Val: It’s kind of surreal, meeting all these people in person. It’s fun to talk to them and get a feel for what they’re really like – some are very smart and friendly, others can behave like prima donnas. In the end you feel as if you’re a part of history – that you’ve experienced the fabric of American culture. Of course, once I’ve interviewed a famous person I always pay more attention to them when they’re on TV.
It’s tough to choose a favorite – but I think that both Bob Schieffer and Mike Huckabee are exceptionally warm and genuine. I liked both of them as people and could imagine being their doctor – or their friend.
4. You were formerly a seminarian. I am intrigued about the connection between your faith and your mission for better healthcare. Can you describe any relationship between the two?
Dr. Val: As a Christian I see it as my job to work at anything that I do with my whole heart. Becoming a doctor had to do with wanting to help people – to alleviate suffering – and to be an advocate for those who didn’t have one. Although my career has taken many twists and turns (I volunteer at Walter Reed once a week, I no longer practice medicine full time), I try to leave things better than I found them.
I like to find creative ways to benefit those in need. Whether that’s asking a neighboring design school to volunteer to improve a local hospital unit, or creating an economic model for bloggers that also supports non-profit work… I’m always looking for a win-win.
5. From your experience as a physician and educator, what piece of advice would you share with Beyond Blue readers who are struggling with physical and mental illnesses in order to sustain good health?
First I would say that you must understand that you are not alone. At this very moment, many other people are feeling the way you are, and struggling with similar concerns. Try to get connected to others who understand you – gain strength from their empathy, learn from their trials, and offer help to others when you feel strong enough to do so. Be kind and patient with others, and encourage them to “pay it forward.”
Second, be careful not to believe everything you read on the Internet. Consider the sources of your information and don’t make rash health decisions without input from your healthcare professional. If a treatment sounds “too good to be true” it probably is – don’t let the snake oil salesmen take advantage of you.
Finally, remember that God didn’t promise us a rose garden. Life is lived forwards but understood in reverse. Trust that all things work together for good for those who love the Lord… and seek Him with your whole heart. Nothing will make you more fulfilled.