Online ratings have me scared for the future of medicine

When did patient satisfaction become more important than appropriate medical care? Medicine has been turned into a service with bonuses related to the patient’s satisfaction score. There is a complete disregard for the appropriate medical care if the patient is dissatisfied with what they’re told. Doctors are so afraid of losing satisfaction scores and getting sued that inappropriate medical care has become the norm. The opioid epidemic is just one example of this. Other examples include unnecessary testing when a good physical exam and history suffice.

While I agree that there should be a rapport between patient and provider, telling a patient what they don’t want to hear is bound to cause dissatisfaction. You will never please everybody no matter what kind of provider you are not what you do for your patients. So what is best?

I was recently threatened by a patient that because I informed them certain testing that they insisted on having was not indicated, they would put a bad review of me on the internet. Sadly, medicine has become just like any other business. People look to these reviews to base their decisions on whom to go to. The more people you dissatisfy, the more likely you are to lose patients because of it. Appropriate medical care never comes into consideration, and these reviews have nothing to do with whether you are a good doctor or not. Sure, there may be providers that aren’t very good, and their reviews reflect that, but more often than not, this is not the case.

Medicine should be about treating a patient’s illnesses, and if that is done well, then providers should be applauded for it.

This is not reality.

A provider’s safety and comfort level also are commonly disregarded for the coveted patient satisfaction. The same above patient was not only inappropriate with me but with my staff. When I stood up and said I wouldn’t see them again, I was informed that legally I had to. I am relatively new to medicine having graduated only within the last decade and being in my own practice for the last five years, but this was unbelievable. How can the happiness of a patient come before the comfort level of the provider and the appropriate medical care of the aforementioned patient? I for one am afraid of the future of medicine.

The author is an anonymous physician.

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