This blog has taught me that doctors need to communicate. When I started this website, I was going to use this as a teaching tool for retinal diseases. I’d use social media to help readers locate this site. There have been some surprises along the way. For instance, I’ve discovered patients love doctors who communicate. It a different form of “medical blogging.”
My wife, Amy, is an attorney (hold on, not a bad thing). She is an avid student of how attorneys use the Internet. She surprised me with a gift to attend a Ken McCarthy seminar in Chicago. That weekend, I became addicted to the power of the Internet and the potential effects on how I, and other docs, could practice medicine.
A Tangible Resource
I use this website everyday as a resource for my patients. Many of the articles you read here are the same discussions I use in the office. During an appointment, I’ll refer a patient to the appropriate articles for further reading. I’ll also encourage my patients to email me (or comment on this blog) if there are any questions.
I am one of the few doctors that openly encourage email.
Why I Email
First of all, I do not like voicemail and I do not like the hassel of returning phone calls. I love email and so do most of my patients.
Email is convenient for both parties. Email is easier than making a phone call, being placed on hold, explaining why you have a question, pleading with the receptionist to make sure to deliver the message…etc.
Email allows my patients to ask questions easily, personally and with guaranteed delivery.
The Difference Between “Website” and “Blog”
In my mind these two terms are now interchangeable. Nowadays, most websites are becoming blogs. There is a big reason.
Originally, the typical doctor’s website was no more than a business card. It contained little information that rarely changed. It was akin to an ad in the phone book.
Blogs, on the other hand, are interactive. The readers (i.e. you) can communicate with the author (i.e. me) by leaving a comment or question. This opens up a dialogue. This is the biggest (but not the only) reason why blogs have become so popular.
While still offering the same static type of information, the ability to communicate makes blogs a natural tool for both patients and doctors.
What Does This Mean?
Having a blog makes a big statement about me. It means I am a doctor willing to communicate. It changes the typical unilateral exchange of information between doctor and patient.
It transforms the typical office visit and makes it more open ended. While the examination takes place in the office, the visit may continue indefinitely. This, in my opinion, is a good thing.
By providing resources and allowing communication outside the walls of the office, my patients actually learn more about their eye problems, take better care of themselves, and make my job easier. I get fewer phone calls, better compliance and have been able to build stronger relationships with the people I meet.
(Remember what Sy Syms used to say? “An educated consumer is our best customer.”)
By opening up communication, I am encouraging better learning. Doctors should do more of this…communicating that is.
Thank you, Amy!