“My body is not a lasagna”
I heard the best quote today on a talk show. It was “my body is not a lasagna” from The Social host Lainey Lui. The comment was made in regards to people looking for physicians via search engines and physician review websites on the Internet. The host disclosed that she is unlikely to be guided to a particular physician by a review, that she is looking for good care and not a restaurant.
I thought the comment was not only hilarious but also really summed up how patients are guided these days. A primary doctor can make a recommendations, but they are not always good or the right fit, and in the world of “choice” why not investigate who you may be seeing. I love research, and I treat this project—choosing a doctor—the same as researching most things, perhaps even with more care. This person can effect my health and certainly my body. If you have ever been on prednisone, you know what I am talking about!
There is power in a patient’s review. Let’s leave hurt feelings aside. Not every experience is positive or goes the way that we planned. As a patient, I would want to know if someone has had a poor experience with a particular doctor. I have been on both sides of the fence, I have doctors who have received a poor or angry review, who been really great for me. I have also seen doctors that have received rave reviews, and felt them to be a disappointment or not have their care match my expectations. I think it would be difficult to tell from a single review, or even a single experience, if a physician would be a match made in heaven. I don’t think finding out more about your physician, or how to be the most prepared for an appointment with that individual, from an online review is a bad thing. I am not sure that would be my preferred method for research, but I suppose in this day and age, it would be for some. As patients, we sometimes forget that Physicians are people too and are human. Gasp, they have feelings! I would hate to see someone’s life ruined or for things to be taken out to context, without a chance to be vetted, as is the case with doctor review websites. I am not sure that we get to be the judge and jury, if the tables are turned, how would we feel? I however don’t know what the balance would be.
The initial topic was “should physicians be able to defend themselves from poor online reviews?” In the process, there may be concerns about a breach of personal information (doctor-patient confidentiality) in the defence statements that a physician would write. Should it be up to a regulatory board to follow up and investigate physicians that have overwhelming poor reviews? I am not sure how they could monitor the comments. It is my understanding that the regulatory boards have proper complaint channels for addressing patient complaints. It is up to patients to complain to regulatory boards if they want to see change, it is unlikely that airing your grievances on an online forum would yield that change. As a patient, I would want to be as protected as possible, from a physician that could do harm. However, l think there is a grain of salt that you need to take when weighing online reviews. You will need to decide for yourself what is true and what you value.
If not online, where else can you get opinions? While it is not polite to eavesdrop in waiting rooms, it has to be one of the best places to “hear” the best info and meet people going through similar experiences. They say that sometimes you find what you need, in the most unlikely places. I could not agree more, I have been able to connect with some great people that I have met in waiting rooms. Even the ones that you never see again, can sometimes provide the best advice. A referral on what doctors to see or who helped another patient, discussions on treatment and coping, information on medications, or what is in development, or who is running a clinical trial. I am a firm believer that all information is valuable. You never know when you might need it.
My body is not a lasagna and I want the best for it.