“I don’t want to see the oncologist you referred me to. I checked the online ratings and he got some pretty bad reviews. Find me someone else,” the phone message read.
The patient had multiple myeloma. The specialist I had picked was the best in the area for this condition. I had no idea what the reviews said. I just knew that this patient wanted to live.
No amount of discussion would dissuade them. Even when I explained why I had chosen this specialist.
What do you look at when you are trying to pick a physician? What qualities are you looking for in a physician? Skill? Personality? What is the most important to you? How do you as a patient measure what is important?
An interesting article I read the other day in the Journal of Medical Internet Research looked at cardiovascular surgeons in five states that allow reporting of outcomes data and compared the risk adjusted post-operative mortality rate with that physician’s online reviews from patients.
There was no correlation.
Now, here is something else provocative. In USA Today there is an article entitled, Don’t Want to Die Before Your Time? Get a Female Doctor. It is referencing a study published in JAMA today that found patients in the hospital who had female physicians were more likely to survive and less likely to be readmitted within 30 days of discharge.
“The researchers estimated that if male physicians could achieve the same results as their female colleagues, they would save an extra 32,000 lives among Medicare patients alone each year — a feat that would rival wiping out motor vehicle accident deaths nationwide.”
Practice differences between men and women translate into real, measurable differences in outcomes.
So, when we talk about income disparity between male and female physicians, one recent study showed that women are paid on average $20,000 less per year than their male counterparts.
What a bargain, huh?