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“in a collective and powerful way”

January 9, 2010

What I find most striking, though, is the democratizing potential of the Internet. These sites…seem to hold promise in the aggregate weight and significance of the stories they contain. These stories are nuggets of qualitative data on patients’ attitudes regarding the quality of care and their needs and preferences in their relationships with their doctors. The Internet has allowed patients to have their unfiltered voices heard in a collective and powerful way.

This is from an article about patient’s rating their doctors online.
The writer likes the concept, and reality: “Reading the sites reassures me that what patients want from their physicians is not all that different from what good physicians want to offer their patients. Patients are generally not unreasonable, high-maintenance consumers; they simply want doctors who care, will listen, and know what they’re doing.”

What may surprise you is that the writer is a doctor, and the article is in the New England Journal of Medicine, one of the World’s most reputable and influential medical journals.

In less than two years the medical profession has moved from from fear and overt opposition, through acceptance, and now to embracing the massive value of open, independent, un-censored feedback. As Dr Jain says in the article: “I’m discovering what patients think makes a good doctor, what they value and deem essential to high-quality care, and what gets them really riled. These patients don’t hold back, and their tales make for refreshing reading, a sea of patients’ voices telling me how it really is.”

The adoption by the very best doctors of such sites is brilliant for patients – and the public should be very wary of doctors who express opposition to such services. It is quite reasonable to ask them what exactly they are scared of.

I am 100% sure that the UK will follow the path we have seen in the US: excellent doctors will embrace such services as powerful ways to improve the quality of care they deliver, and such open rating and user-reviews will become the norm across all public services.

[I recommend Dr Jain’s site]

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