I’ve received this comment from one of my readers, in relation to the hand surgeon, Dr Anthony Beard – a “kpk”:-
I’ve tried to explain my position many times, but I’ll have another go.
There are about 40,000 doctors in Sydney, and many of my readers and I are trying to find which ones out of these 40,000 are best to see and which ones are “waste of time” doctors, and are looking for any clues or indications which might help us – on the assumption, (which I would have thought was obvious – but perhaps not to “kpk,”) that we can’t try out all of the potentially suitable ones ourselves. And to me, easily the best clues or indications are what they have to say, and emails are easily the most efficient and effective way of finding out what they have to say. And, if they haven’t got an email address they are not even putting themselves in the mix.
It’s not my position that you can judge a doctor by whether they have an email address, but that you can judge a doctor by what he or she has to say on various matters, and emails are easily the most efficient way of finding out what they have to say.
With specialists, my practice now is to email them and ask them if the matters on which I need help are within their specialisations – and it’s worked very well. And, if I’d been doing it earlier, I believe it would have saved me a great deal of time, trouble and expense – especially with a couple of ophthalmologists who I have written about extensively. (I was referred to them by an optometrist on the basis that his mother-in-law used them!!!??? – obviously he didn’t know how bad they were.)
I use a heart specialist who has an email address and answers emails. The last time I saw him in November 2013, he was so pleased with the results of his tests that he said I didn’t need to see him again for another year, although I could, of course, see him at any time if I was concerned about anything. Lately I have been concerned with certain developments and I know I can email him asking whether I am worrying unnecessarily, or whether I should go and see him again – and with a simple “Yes” or “No” email from him, my situation can be managed in the best way possible.
Often after a face to face consultation with a doctor you can be not quite sure what they said, and with an email along the lines of, “In my consultation with you today I understood you to say blah blah blah – have I got this right?” misunderstandings can be avoided.
And a big advantage is that emails from doctors can be easily circulated amongst our friends and relatives to help them see good doctors and avoid seeing “waste of time” doctors, and on blogs like this.
My postion is this – within the 40,000 doctors in Sydney there is a community of those who have ordinary email addresses and who answer emails, a community which is constantly growing on a daily basis. Of course, there are lots of doctors, who don’t have email addresses, perhaps lots of really good ones, but the advantages of dealing with members of this community are so great for us consumers of health care services that, all things being equal, we should always seek to deal with them first.
Incidentally, as an example of a doctor who’s a member of this community, you couldn’t get a better example than the psychiatrist Dr Mark Rowe – see this post.