Why I think all Doctors should not only be provided with free access to a service like 3G Doctor but be required to use it regularly

Although I’m a big fan of twitter I sometimes find myself a little disappointed by the idea that some of the valuable content and conversations you discover through it might only have a temporary/transient existence, perhaps it’s a bit like the feeling many patients get leaving a consultation with a healthcare professional with zero documentation and little memory of the important information that was exchanged.

Here’s a few retweets I made of a conversation involving @alexstobart, @andrew_dawes, @bazmoult, @clarercgp, @DahDoc, @DrGrumble, @DrPlumEU, @iamdoctord, @mediconabike, @mellojonny, @mgtmccartney and @Shingle_beach (amongst others – boy does the RCGP need to get a blog!) that I noticed today and thought it would be useful to copy/paste it below for prosperity because it highlights so many of the challenges that many patients experience that work to prevent and delay them from seeking advice:

I think it’s interesting to think how an appreciation of challenges like these can help us to design new services that can serve such clinical blindspots.

I thought it might help to list a few reasons why I think medical regulators and organisations that serve the interests of Doctors should be looking to provide them with free-of-charge 3G Doctor style consultations that are required at regular intervals (perhaps they could justify it based on the impact stress has on clinical care eg. similar to how the need for revalidation has been justified):

> The best care is achieved through a relationship with a family Doctor but many patients (particularly those who are themselves Doctors) find it difficult or practically impossible to have such a relationship.

> It’s critical that patients are honest with their Doctor and digital asynchronous communication is the biggest opportunity we have to achieve this (just look at how much individuals are sharing on Facebook!).

> As a group Doctors have some of the highest rates of suicide and although ‘ilicit drug’ use is probably insignificant compared with alcohol and prescription drug abuse there are many other patient groups that are fearful of sensitive information appearing on their electronic medical records and have access and regulatory issues (eg. politicians, pilots, celebrities, etc).

> Doctors already have easy access to corridor conversations with their colleagues and although there is an abundance of evidence that this isn’t enough (I can point you to plenty of tragic inquests that include mentions of these) rival services will need to be at least as convenient to be considered by busy Doctors (think Doctor in your Pocket).

> It’s clear that many Doctors feel shame about going to see a Doctor so we’ve got to give them the opportunity for totally private and location independent ways of talking to a Doctor.

> We’ve got to recognise that even the best Doctors aren’t going to be keen on the idea of whiling away their professional lives asking questions and recording answers (something a computer can do very well) – and this is going to be a massive challenge as carers look to serve informed patients (AKA Doctors) without the usual in-office meeting and the established personal relationship.

What do you think? Does anyone really care enough about the health of Doctors to make something like this happen or shall we just continue pretending that there isn’t a problem?

About David Doherty

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