Saturday, September 13, 2008

“Healing the Doctor Patient Divide”

The New York Times Health Blog “Well” edited by Tara Parker-Pope, published an article by Pauline W. Chen, MD this week. Dr. Chen, author of the best selling book, Final Exam: A Surgeon’s Reflections on Mortality, will write a new online column in the Times called “Doctor and Patient.”

The premise of Dr. Chen’s essay is that we “all want the same thing: the best care possible. But we have lost the ability to converse thoughtfully with one another. And because of that loss, we can no longer discuss the meaning of illness, care, health and policy in a way that is relevant to all of us.” She hopes that building an online community will bridge the gap.

If the readers’ initial reactions are any indication, she has struck a nerve. The first 300 comments range from patients ranting about bad personal experiences with physicians focused entirely on wealth accumulation to physicians ranting about a system that has screwed them. This is a target-rich environment: everyone from government to medical schools to HMO’s to insurance companies to lawyers to the economy to primary care reimbursement to societal breakdown is to blame. Solutions are rare.

I’m not certain that this forum will build community, but it makes interesting reading. I look forward to her columns.

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