Saturday, June 28, 2014

If I were the health minister

My single point agenda would be - All doctors should have their own website !

Why would doctors do this ? The incentive would be that doctors who published their own website would earn enough continuing medical education ( CME) credits to be able to renew their Medical Council Registration without having to attend any medical conferences. ( As we know, these conferences are a major course of medical corruption. Pharmaceutical companies fund these and use these as an excuse to fly doctors to exotic locations and put them up in 5 star hotels, so that doctors can enjoy an all-expenses paid holiday in the guise of educating themselves !)

You might ask - How does publishing a website contribute to a doctor’s medical education ?

 Since their website is their public face, doctors would take pains in order to create digital content which is useful for their patients. Doctors are meant to teach their patients – the word doctor is derived from the word docere, which means to teach. And we all know that the best way of learning something is to teach it ! Once doctors publish their website, they will forced to become more patient-centric. Patients will use the site to ask them questions, which they will need to answer, thus keeping them on their toes. They would have to use the latest digital technology once they go online, as they cannot afford to be left behind. In order to ensure they are one up on other doctors, they will invest in ensuring their online content is updated, reliable and easy to understand.

This is a win-win situation, which will help both doctors and patients. A website is a great way of helping doctors  to attract new patients ; and to ensure patient loyalty. Lots of patients are online , and if doctors have a website, it will be much easier for patients to find them. Importantly, doctors would not have to pay a kickback for referrals as patients would come directly to them. Their website would help them to reach out to patients from all over the country – and even all over the world !  They would also become much more available and accessible, as patients would not need to travel to reach out to them.

A website would force doctors to become open and transparent – they dare not lie on a website ! Competitive pressures would help to drive down costs. When some doctors start publishing their fees online, others will soon follow suit. This would help to remove the uncertainty which surrounds medical fees today, and doctors would not be able to pad their bills. Also, this clarity would encourage competition and some doctors would be forced to reduce their fees . This market pressure will help patients to get more cost effective care !,

The good news is that the new Health Minister , Dr Harsh Vardhan ( whose website is at used to be a practicing doctor , rather than a politician.  He uses the internet to express his point of view, and he understands first hand how important a website can be.

This simple solution will help doctors to put their patients first - and the government won’t have to spend any money to implement it. Even better, it encourages individual doctors to do what's right for their patients ! This is the kind of innovative policy decision which can have a very positive impact on the entire healthcare ecosystem.

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