Debunking the “Unapproachable Doctor” Myth

September 5, 2013
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doctor approachability

Myth: Patients go online because they find it difficult to speak with their doctors.

doctor approachability

Myth: Patients go online because they find it difficult to speak with their doctors.

The online space represents an important supplement to physician conversations, but it is clearly not a replacement for them. Certainly there is a lot written about the negative doctor patient dynamic.  The most recent being Emily Oster’s book, “Expecting Better,” which chronicles Ms. Oster’s experience with her ob-gyn.

According to the New York Times article on the book, “Dr. Oster paints a fairly antagonistic picture of the doctor-patient relationship, castigating what she views as the restriction of women’s freedom.” According to Dr. Oster, her ob-gyn would not even participate in conversations around issues such coffee consumption, preferring to issue “blanket rules,” instead.

However, in our study, 77% of multiple sclerosis (MS) community members found it easy/moderately easy to speak with their specialist about switching medications; this may come as a surprise as the industry holds this as a traditionally difficult topic to raise with physicians because of the inherent challenge it seems to represent to the physician’s authority.

In our experience, these numbers are somewhat high, suggesting that the MS specialists have a particularly patient-centric approach to their practice. For example, many MS Specialists fully engage their patients in medication selection, often providing patients with starter kits from several brands for them to select from.  However, we suspect the MS patient experience is closer to the norm than Dr. Oster’s encounters with her ob-gyn.

(Unapproachable doctors? / shutterstock)

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