Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Latest Posts

The Shortcomings Of Many Physician Rating Websites

Prepared Patient Publication Logo “We’re Listed With the Plumbers Now”

Angie’s List can help you locate a reputable handyman. Yelp can push you in the direction of the perfect restaurant for your anniversary dinner. Amazon’s consumer reviews can even help you choose the TV that will fit in the corner of your den. So why wouldn’t you turn to the Internet to find your next doctor?

39-year-old Jennifer Stevens did just that when she needed an obstetrician for her first child. Not wanting to reveal her pregnancy too soon by asking friends for suggestions for a good OB, she turned to the Web for more information on potential physicians. She soon found that a lot of the information she needed to make this important decision was missing. “A lot of sites gave stars, but I didn’t really know what those stars meant. I just wasn’t comfortable picking an OB based on that kind of vague information,” she said.

Lindsay Luthe, a 30-year old Washington, D.C. resident, consulted the popular ratings website Yelp after asking her friends to recommend a physician. “I perused the reviews for this particular doctor and saw how positive they were. Those reviews, combined with my friend’s personal recommendation, led me to make an appointment with the doctor. I think I even used the contact info on the Yelp page to call the office,” she said.

The success of physician ratings websites—such as HealthGrades, or RateMyMD, among many others—has been mixed. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Prepared Patient Forum: What It Takes Blog*

Improving The Physician’s Experience With EHRs: More Training Required

Physicians need at least three to five days of training on new electronic health record (EHR) systems to achieve the highest level of overall satisfaction, but nearly half of new users get three or fewer days of training, according to a survey.

AmericanEHR Partners surveyed physicians’ experiences with EHRs to achieve some meaningful use requirements. (The group is a web-based resource for EHR system selection/implementation developed by the American College of Physicians and Cientis Technologies).

AmericanEHR Partners used a 139-question online survey to collect data form physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants about their use and satisfaction with EHRs and health information technology. Survey data from more than 2,300 physicians in conjunction with five different professional societies was collected from April 2010 to July 2011. Results appeared at the group’s website.

There were Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

Modern Reputation Management: Physicians Should Be Proactive

Doctors are preoccupied  with consumer review sites and the potential for bad press.  Often the first impulse is to put the law on your side.  Consider, for example, Dr. Kimberly Henry, cosmetic surgeon who last year initiated legal action against at least 12 reviewers from sites such as and

While she may feel some sense of satisfaction in her quest for justice, I’m guessing many read the reviews to see what the fuss is all about.

Actions like these reflect a fundamental misunderstanding of modern reputation management.  Physicians who react against patient dialog should understand the Streisand Effect.  The Streisand Effect is an online phenomenon in which the attempt to remove or hide information is met with the unintended consequence of greater attention.

Instead of a prohibitive, reactive position against patient comments, doctors should consider a preemptive, proactive approach to dialog. Andy Sernovitz had it right when he suggested, ‘the solution to pollution is dilution.’  Work for good ink.  It’s hard to get worked up about 10 poor reviews when you have 350 great reviews.

When physicians take action against patient reviews or even work to prevent reviews they raise a glaring red flag.  We’re unlikely to win the battle against public dialog.

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

Sensationalism And Misinformation About Diabetes: Oprah And Doctor Oz Are At It Again

The Open Letter Mailbag.  Also looks like a sack of potatoes.  BUT LOW CARB ONES!  :pDear Oprah and Dr. Oz,

Diabetes is very expensive to manage and to treat the complications of, but what comes at an even higher cost is the damage of statements from a doctor, claiming that diabetes is reversible. I was diagnosed as a child, and my type 1 diabetes is not the result of any controllable factors. However, I have many friends who have type 2 diabetes who can make the same claim.

I can’t lie – I had a lot of hope about your episode regarding diabetes.  Even though it was billed as “the silent killer” and even though I knew you’d show the darkest side of diabetes-related complications possible to “sensationalize” this disease, I was holding out because I wanted this episode to be accurate. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Six Until Me.*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

Read more »

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

Read more »

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

See all book reviews »