I used to think it was about money but I’ve met too many Doctors who have shown me this was a red herring (eg. brilliant NHS GPs like Dr Tony Stern, Dr Amir Hannan, etc). The reality is many Doctors still aren’t yet aware of the opportunity for the Internet to help Patients and they hold onto outdated ideas about Patients/Carers who present to them after doing some online research like those depicted in this satirical Spud Magazine (a fake health news website) article. It’s incredibly easy to find Doctors expressing these feelings in more subtle ways if you read around eg. the internet “has caused a lot of problems and increased our (GPs) workload”.
If you are a Healthcare Professional practicing in 2015 and you get a ‘heartbeat’ moment (British Journal of General Practice Feb 2010: ‘A heartbeat moment’: qualitative study of GP views of patients bringing health information from the internet to a consultation) when you learn that a Patient or Parent/Carer looks to the internet to improve their understanding of a diagnosis/treatment/health condition it’s time you were retrained.
We can’t continue to hide behind excuses or blame the Patients/Carers. We need to listen to Patients and evolve beyond the office visit model because the 2000 year evolution of medicine and the rise of chronic disease mean undocumented and unprepared in/out-in-5-minutes Doctor consults are increasingly a waste of everyones time…
*** *** UPDATE 26 JULY 2015 *** ***
I think Seth Godin is brilliantly on point with the suggestion of asking “Can we talk about this?” as a simple litmus test for a productive relationship:
“If one professional says it to another, the answer is an emotion-free, “sure.” There’s no baggage. Talking is the point. Talking is what we do. We communicate to solve problems. On the other hand, if the question brings with it fear and agitation and, “uh oh, what’s wrong,” you can bet that important stuff goes undiscussed all the time”
If you are a Patient or Carer who is getting interrupted before you’ve had 18 seconds to tell your story, has the information you researched on the internet printed and brought to the consultation immediately placed in the round file on the floor next to the door, etc, you can be sure that there’s fear, agitation and plenty of baggage that’s getting in the way of what could so easily be a productive relationship.