The internet truly is a wondrous invention.
It has evened the playing field with a wide swath of people now having access to information that used to be possessed in the hands of only the elite few not too long ago.
However, as with most things, there can be downsides associated with any tool of progress.
For example, Press Ganey is a company that has created a survey aimed toward patients so that they can rate their health care experience.
Patients can essentially grade their physicians for each encounter they have with the medical system.
The premise behind this survey is to create transparency in a business that typically shield’s itself from a consumer’s prying eyes and holds the medical professionals accountable.
The main issue at hand is that these patient survey scores have an impact on the reimbursement formulas that the payors use to compensate physicians.
Have a low enough score for patient satisfaction, and your wallet will feel the impact as you will be getting less money for a patient encounter that someone who has a higher score would.
Afraid a patient seeking pain medications would leave a scathing review if you do not cave in and prescribe them?
Just prescribe what the patient wants, and you can be assured of a 5-star rating.
And if you refuse?
Then you could suffer the wrath of an angry patient.
Doing what is right and justified in medicine may incur financial and reputation penalties for the physician if the patient feels he or she is being under-treated according to whatever online source they might have stumbled upon.
And this may unwittingly create medical practices that do more harm than good.
There is also the potential for survey bias.
Patients who have received bad medical care, perceived or otherwise, are more likely to vent their frustrations on the survey while patients who have exemplary or even just standard care may forgo answering the survey altogether.
Social media platforms
In addition to patient satisfaction survey scores, today’s physicians have other issues to contend with that their older counterparts never had to deal with in the past.
As social media platforms continue to gain dominance over the internet, a side effect that modern-day physicians face is more to do with the appearance of high-quality care rather than delivering high-quality care.
Physicians who have embraced this social media movement have taken to Instagram, Facebook or Twitter to promote themselves.
At the same time, potentially more experienced physicians who do not “play the social game” may fall by the wayside as potential patients choose their more celebrity counterparts.
Would you rather be operated on by the famous Dr. Oz or someone who is not famous in the media?
Patients automatically equating celebrity to mean the best may indeed be setting a bad precedent.
It gives a new meaning to the term “socialized medicine.”