Sunday, September 10, 2006

Ask-the-doctor - using the doctor's expertise

There is no doubt that doctors are a scare resource. However, so much medical expertise is just wasted. Young doctors, who are at the peak of their professional competence know lots of stuff - but often waste months twiddling their thumbs, because they do not have any patients to treat. Senior doctors, on the other hand, are so busy and over-stretched, that they often do not provide personalised care to their patients. How can we redress this imbalance, to help both doctors and patients ?
I feel the PHR ( personal health record) would be a useful tool to do so.
Patients could publish their queries online ( just like they do at google answers, for example); and interested doctors could answer their questions, for which patients would pay. At present, the reason the "ask-the-doctor" system does not work very well, is because doctors often don't have important medical information about the patient - and it's very hard for patients to provide this. This often means that the answers the doctor provides are very generic - and not very helpful. On the other hand, if the doctor could refer to the patient's PHR, he would know enough about the patient's background, so that he could answer more intelligently, and provide an answer which was tailored to the patint's specific circumstances.
This would allow patients to get second opinions inexpensively - and not only would this improve medical care, it would also allow retired doctors and junior doctors an opportunity to make good use of their expertise.
I can vouch this works well from personal experience. As an IVF specialist, it often breaks my heart when I see infertile patients who have received poor quality treatment . I offer a free second opinion online - and have helped many infertile couples to have their own baby - simply by providing them with the right advise !

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:57 AM

    Interesting concept. One can also rate doctors based on "helpfulness" or "usefulness". Similar to maybe an ebay rating like a "power seller", etc.
    This would also help young doctors establish their credentials, while offering the patients valuable medical opinion.


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