Thursday, August 14, 2014

Patients - be aware– not beware !

The Times of India is doing a good job with highlighting the problems which plague the medical profession today .  The health care system is ill, and it’s important to talk about burning issues such as medical corruption , rather than bury them under the carpet.

The big downside to these articles is that while they are great at highlighting problems, they do not provide any concrete solutions to the reader. They end up creating an atmosphere of distrust and suspicion , which harms both patients and doctors. In order for the patient to heal , it is important that he be able to trust that his doctor is acting in a fiduciary capacity , and is doing what is best for him by acting as a trusted professional .

As result of these article, the entire medical profession has been tarred with the same brush. Every doctor, no matter how good he may be , is treated with suspicion . The patient is on his guard in every clinical encounter. This means that it’s much harder today for even good doctors to earn their patient’s trust.

Rather than create a confrontational situation , where patients are pitted against doctors, the media could make much more productive use of  its clout by creating a “ Be Aware” campaign for patients , rather than the present “ Beware” campaign they are running.

This would involve educating patients as to what the right medical care is , for their particular medical problem , using the well-established principles of evidence-based medicine . This information would be trustworthy , and would be provided online, so that it's easily accessible to patients . Once patients are aware of their treatment options , they can make their own decisions, in partnership with their doctor. Patients would be easily able to verify that the advise which their doctor was giving them was right – and this would allow the doctor to earn their trust!

While it’s true that educational campaigns do not attract as many eyeballs as  articles which highlight malpractice and corruption ( which are far more interesting to read about, because they raise the reader’s ire), this kind of campaign would be much more constructive .

It would help to enhance the doctor-patient relationship , and heal the healthcare system. Providing Information Therapy makes a lot of business sense for the  media , because everyone spends hours scouring the net when they fall ill.  If this information is available on a trusted website, they would be happy to read it here, rather than waste hours on Dr Google.

This would be a long-term investment, which would pay off handsomely in the long run, because it would help to ensure that patients and doctors stop thinking of themselves as being adversaries , and start respecting each other as partners.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:09 PM

    I loved the title and what you say is true !


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