There's an amazing, more-than-a-little depressing piece in last week's New York Times. Written by Tara Parker-Pope, the piece, entitled Doctors and Patients: A Rocky Relationship is exactly what it's name implies. It's a feature piece about the deteriorating relationship between physicians and patients. Not mincing words, Parker-Pope describes patients as being frustrated, angry and resentful at the quality of the care they're receiving.
What it all seems to boil down to is time. Because of managed care, paperwork, Medicare reimbursement payments and so on, physicians seem to have next to no time to spend with patients. They are unwilling to answer questions, do not tell patients what's going on, and as patients see it, just aren't really paying attention.
The article itself is fascinating, but what's really amazing is the comments on it. The piece ran in a blog called Well, which is part of the the Times' health section. It was followed — and remember, this all happened within a little over 24 hours–by an incredible number of online comments, virtually all of which were incredibly vitriolic. Other blog posts came in with 35, 50, 70 comments. This piece garnered 241.
A few unscientifically chosen excerpts:
- It’s because most doctors are, despite their ‘12 years’ education,’ poorly educated. They are not capable of independent and logical thought and instead revert to their standard lines scarcely different from a parrot.
- I hate doctors.
- Suffice it to say that the medical profession would have to crawl several steps up the food chain in order to earn my contempt.
- Your remarks are astounding for they show just how pompous medical doctors can be when their “authority” is questioned.
As the article also points out, one of the side effects of this mistrust is noncompliance.
There are a lot of reasons relationship marketing is a rapidly growing field. One of them, sadly, is that what physicians don't seem to be providing in their offices anymore has to come from somewhere. So, it comes from us. Ideally, of course, patients would have a close, cooperative working relationship with their physicians. When that doesn't, or can't, take place, the relationships we create are the next best thing — and we think they're pretty good.