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Video: “The Too-Informed Patient”

This video, “The Too-Informed Patient,” came my way lately. It’s featured on NPR’s Mar­ket­place website:

The Too Informed Patient from Marketplace on Vimeo.


The pup­peteer skit fea­tures the inter­ac­tion between a young man with a rash and his older physi­cian. The patient is an informed kind of guy: He’s checked his own med­ical record on the doctor’s web­site, read up on rashes in the Boston Globe, checked pix on WebMD, seen an episode of “Gray’s Anatomy” about a rash and, most inven­tively, checked iDiagnose, a hypo­thet­i­cal app (I hope) that led him to the con­clu­sion that he might have epi­der­mal necro­sis.

“Not to worry,” the patient informs Dr. Matthews, who mean­while has been try­ing to exam­ine him (“Say aaahhh” and more): He’s eli­gi­ble for an exper­i­men­tal pro­to­col. After some back-and-forth in which the doc­tor — who’s been quite cour­te­ous until this point, call­ing the patient “Mr. Horcher,” for exam­ple, and not admon­ish­ing the patient who’s got so many ideas of his own — the doc­tor says that the patient may be exac­er­bat­ing the con­di­tion by scratch­ing it, and ques­tions the wis­dom of tak­ing an exper­i­men­tal treat­ment for a rash. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Medical Lessons*

Reaching Doctors In The Virtual World

It’s the great migration to digital. And as civilization makes its move, the pharmaceutical industry is trying to figure out how to reach out to physicians. Pharmaceutical reps are slowly becoming a thing of the past. Branded medication portals leave most doctors cold. Email outreach is marginal.

Pharma strategists ask me how to reach doctors in the new world. I don’t have an answer. It isn’t that I can’t come up with an answer. It’s just that a good one doesn’t exist. Why?

Doctors aren’t anywhere right now. They’re stuck somewhere between the analog and digital. Socially they’re nebulous. Their virtual communities are non-existent. Public social networks are sparsely populated. When they participate they watch and rarely create or discuss. Our profession is going through a lot right now and it’s evident in anemic digital adoption. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

Why More Doctors Don’t Blog

I recently got into a discussion with a couple friends about doctors and blogging. Why don’t we see more doctors out there? Of the hundreds of thousands of doctors, I’d expect more to be taking a voice. Even during the U.S. healthcare reform debate — crickets.

Of course there are doctors who blog, but the numbers are slim. What’s behind it?

Passion. Pushing great content requires a passionate interest in changing ideas and making a difference. There’s malaise in medicine right now. Margins are slim. Physicians are losing control of what’s happening around them. The fire in the belly that drove so many doctors to choose medicine has given way to a preoccupation with survival.

Late adopters. Most doctors think a blog is something that deviant teens do on a cellphone. There’s endemic ignorance in the medical community surrounding social technology. Can we teach ‘em? Maybe. But I think this is a generational issue that will work itself out with time. The use of social technology to facilitate dialog between doctor and patient will evolve over the next several years as: 1) technology evolves and 2) digital communication becomes a standard. Keep in mind that many of us still work with doctors who grew up using rotary phones. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

Navigating The New York Publishing World To Help Patients

The book publishing world, largely based in New York City, is in trouble. The fragmentation of the market by electronics large and small has chopped former readers into so many pieces. How can a publisher make a blockbuster buck anymore? The answer may come in translations of Swedish fiction from a newly-found novelist, now dead, to non-fiction ghostwritten for a face everyone knows from the evening news.

In a whirlwind face-to-face series of meeting with publishers on a very recent sunny Tuesday in Manhattan, I got a glimpse of their angst and did my best to convince them that a book – yes, even all sorts of electronic versions and in-the-palm-of-your-hand “apps” – could make them boatloads of money and do the right thing for America’s healthcare consumer (just maybe such a work could be translated into Swedish and do good there in a return of the favor literary effort). Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Andrew's Blog*

Does Your Family Have A “Technology Gap?”

Older Woman and LaptopDo you have a technology participation gap in your family? We do. In fact, most families do somewhere.

For us, we have a few older relatives who firmly believe that technology is for “the younger generation.” What’s interesting is that some of these people are not that old — at least not “old” as I define it.

One relative, for example, was a working woman in her younger days. Retired now, she never bought into any technology past the 1970s! Beyond the automobile, refrigerator, TV, radio, dishwasher, washer and drier, she has seen no need for anything else.

Although  she has grudgingly begun to use email and the Web, she has deemed herself  ”old” and refused to use a cell phone or any other “high-tech device.” Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Gwenn Is In*

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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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