Patient or healthcare consumer? Is there a difference?

Where am I? Why am I having trouble focusing? Oh, wait a minute … that’s my hand … at least, I think that’s my hand. Why does it appear to be moving in slow motion and leaving a blurry trail in its wake? Oh, hang on, there’s my foot. It’s in a cast! Oh, now I remember … it’s all coming back to me now.

Check out the rest of my article at Technology for Doctors.


One response to “Patient or healthcare consumer? Is there a difference?

  1. I received an email this morning from Elizabeth J Hall-Findlay commenting on my recent Technology for Doctors article. With her permission, I am posting her email as a comment:

    Dear Michael,

    I normally don’t read the whole articles on the Technology for Doctors Online that comes through my email, but you caught my attention. I was initially just curious but then you make me think as I read further.

    I like the word “patient” and I like that you made a differentiation between “respect” and “awe” for doctors and other health care professionals. I am a plastic surgeon and therefore patients can sometimes appear more like customers or consumers. I still, however, like the word “patient” because there are not only “rights” involved as a patient but also “responsibilities” that are not always associated with a customer or consumer. If they choose to have surgery with me as their plastic surgeon, they have several responsibilities in following the rules about preoperative medication use and postoperative care. I will take care of what happens during surgery and it is my responsibility to provide good information and assessment ahead of surgery but to also provide good follow-up and care.

    Although I have the main responsibility, it is a shared responsibility.

    There is a certain “buyer beware” that is appropriate in my specialty – many patients are going out of country (or even choosing non-specialists or “other” specialists in country) to have surgery performed at less cost. They do not seem to understand that there is a significant gap among providers in both quality and service. It is difficult to perform effective research but some patients do none at all and then come back to Canada expecting us to take care of their complications (and of course under the health care system).

    As far as “paper” during surgery, I still think that it is better than many electronic systems so far. People actually look at paper. We used to get incident reports to review when a miss or near-miss happened with patients – now I never see anything. It is buried in the computer. I realize that is the fault of the system but I have been asking for this information for over 15 years with no success. I use an electronic office management system and it is excellent (I have used over 8 systems in my career and none of the current Canadian ones were suited to my practice). I still use a combination of electronic and paper because my patients are “one-time” patients and there is really no point in scanning all that foreign paper that goes through. Also I see patients in a remote clinic for follow-up and we give them copies of their photos – on paper. We are working on being able to deliver those on a platform that is secure etc – but when I go from room to room and see 40-50 follow-up patients I use short paper notes and paper photos. Electronic is still too cumbersome.

    I love computers and what they have to offer and they (and the software) are getting better and better – but not completely yet. When we do the time-out in surgery (a great advance in safety and organization) having someone read the paper consent and review it with everyone is better than turning your back to look at a computer screen on the wall. Maybe portable will get there soon?

    Elizabeth J Hall-Findlay, MD, FRCSC
    Banff Plastic Surgery

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