Monday, March 26, 2012

Why it's unethical for doctors not to have a website

A lot of doctors feel it's unethical for doctors to have a website because they feel it is a form of advertising . They feel that a website is a cheap gimmick, and respectable doctors do not need to stoop to such low levels in order to solicit patients - after all, there is a difference between doctors who are professionals and stores, which are out to sell their goods ! They feel it is below their dignity to put up a website ; and will actually look down upon other doctors who have an online presence.

My take on the matter is exactly the opposite. And in fact, I feel doctors who don't have websites are actually being unethical. Let's not forget that the word doctor is derived from the word docere , which means to teach ; and that one of the primary professional responsibilities of the doctor it to educate their patients, so that they can manage their diseases and take better care of their health. The medical profession is meant to educate laypeople , so that they can remain healthy and prevent illness .

One of the most effective tools to educate patients is a website. It allows doctors to reach out beyond the four walls of their clinic , so that they can teach everyone in the community about their health. By not doing so they are actually abdicating their responsibility . In fact it's the senior doctors , who are no longer actively practicing medicine , and have become the senior statesman of the medical profession , who are in the best position to provide online patient education through a website , because they can provide information which can be trusted . It's sad that they are selfishly allowing a lifetime of clinical experience to go with them to the grave.

A lot of doctors are very critical and dismissive of patients who on the net in order to find information about their illness. They dislike patients who google their symptoms , and then bring pages of internet printouts , so that they can discuss the results of their search with their doctor. They feel that the internet just serves to confuse patients ; and ends up wasting the doctor’s time as well. However, if you are not willing to provide an alternative solution, this just means that you are part of the problem. Doctors need to realize that if they were willing to publish their own websites, their patients would be much happier to get authentic reliable information from a person whom they can trust - their own doctor - rather than have to waste hours , hunting for information, which is of doubtful authenticity. Patients don't like wasting their time ; and they hate getting confused when they come across information on different sites, which provide diametrically opposite viewpoints.

I hope it will soon become as routine for doctors to have their own websites, as it is for them to have their own stethoscopes !

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