This video, “The Too-Informed Patient,” came my way lately. It’s featured on NPR’s Marketplace website:
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.
“I just need you to sign this paper,” says the patient.
The doctor-puppet pauses momentarily, seemingly resigned to a new role. After the patient leaves, the doctor thinks to weigh himself. The skit ends with the sounds of keyboard typing.
The piece supplies thought-provoking details in under two and a half minutes. It’s a useful teaching tool, among other things. There’s been some discussion about it on the NPR site, the Patient Empowered Blog, the Health Care Blog and elsewhere. Some comments suggest annoyance, that the “informed patient” is misrepresented here as exaggerated or foolish, or that the skit is off mark.
To me it rings true, representing an older doctor who’s trying — openmindedly but not on the cutting edge — to embrace new technology, and has the patient’s interests at heart. His efforts and his knowledge are set aside.
My reaction is sadness. Am I the only one?
Thanks to the team who created this insightful production: Produced by Gregory Warner and Mara Zepeda, created by Sebastienne Mundheim of White Box Theatre, acted by Charles DelMarcelle and Doug Greene, and voiced by two actors from Philadelphia’s Pig Iron Theatre Company, and to NPR’s Marketplace for presenting.
*This blog post was originally published at Medical Lessons*