Doctors2.0 & You – Patients: Evangelists or Rock Stars? – Doctors: Paternalistic or Partners & Educators? -Part 1


I met Denise Silber (aka @health20Paris) online at the weekly healthcare in social media tweetchat #hcsmeu in 2010.  I had also heard about her from my good friend Nicos Papachristou (@ehealthgr), who had participated  at the 2010 Health2.0 conference.

So, when I saw in February 2011 the announcement of Doctors2.0 & You in my twitter timeline and visited www.doctors20.com, I decided that it was a conference I would like not only to attend but also, if possible, to convince some Greek doctors to participate.

Shortly before the conference, we had the opportunity to meet on the occasion of the TAIEX/P2P conference in Brussels in May, in which we were both speakers. I was very pleased to meet a lively, sociable, cosmopolitan and well informed lady passionate about her work.

When Denise invited me to participate in the second workshop on the new relation patient-doctor  at the 2011 venue of Doctors2.0 & You and share the panel with Gilles Frydman (@gfry), the founder of  ACOR, the online closed communities of cancer patients and  co-founder of the Society for Participatory Medicine, I was thrilled  to share views with a personality of the e-patient movement. Peter Becznik, the Hungarian Doctor and founder of a Facebook community of pacemaker bearing patients would the third panelist.

These were my thoughts,  in the RER train that brought me from the Charles de Gaulle Airport to Cite Universitaire Internationale, where the conference took place. When I arrived, the workshop had already started.

As I took hastily  my  place in the panel, I was surprised to see many more persons besides panelists Gilles Frydman and Peter Becznik. I saw some persons who reminded me of twitter “friends” and yes, next to me was Dr. Bryan Vartabedian from USA (@Doctor_V), whose outspoken blog 33 charts I follow, Angel Gonzalez, also an e-patient and marketeer (@Angel189) of Ideagoras from Spain and one of #hcsmeu fans and  Dr. Franz Wiesbauer, co-founder of Medcrunch (@medcrunch) from Austria, an acquaintance from twitter and from their blog. Well, that was a dream team to discuss about the new patient-doctor relationship!

Workshop B-The new patient-doctor relation at “Doctors 2.0 & You” International Conference – Paris France-Wednesday, June 22, 2010

Participants: Kathi Apostolidis, Peter Becznik, Gilles Frydman, Angel Gonzalez, Dr. Bryan Vartabedian, Dr. Franz Wiesbauer

The changes in the relation of patients to their doctors was a topic of great interest for the participants of the conference, as the two workshops, on the same topic, that were held on Wednesday, June 22, 2011, prove. One might ask why these two workshops attracted so much interest? The question seems reasonable, since neither patients nor doctors  were majorities among the participants of the two workshops, in fact I would say that they were minorities among the various categories of participants.

The emergence of a new kind of patient, still slow moving in Europe but steadily growing, who arrives at a medical appointment

  • having already googled his symptoms,
  • having discussed his findings on the internet  with family, friends and his online buddies in social media,
  • who has searched his/her doctor profile on the internet to learn about his/her education, practice, experience and research,
  • who comes armed with a list of questions about his/her condition and possible therapeutic options,
  • who dares to argue with the physician about procedures, adverse events, asking detailed questions on which he expects concrete and accurate answers,

is a new reality to which the still paternalistic medical profession in continental Europe is not prepared  to face. Doctors are often startled by patients who ask well framed and to the point questions on their condition. We have many examples of doctors who are uncomfortable to deal with these patients, since now it is not so easy to talk down to an educated, health literate patient, who will answer with facts and arguments, enough to baffle any not up-to-the-minute informed physician.

The factor that revolutionizes the secular physician-patient relationship is nothing else but the accessibility of knowledge brought at the fingertips of patients via high speed internet! The internet creates a new divide in healthcare accessibility, since the patients who are digitally and health literate, have more options to learn about their disease, specialist physicians, specialized medical centres, new therapies, connect with other patients around the world to learn about impact of new treatments.

Some of the issues discussed during the workshop were:

  • How doctors explain the disease and communicate the diagnosis to patients?
  • Conficts between physician’s obligation to accurately inform the patient and time constraints from fixed medical appointments.
  • How patient-doctor communication should be made? Are medical terms acceptable or should everything be communicated in lay terms.
  • How to improve health and digital literacy of patients?
  • Are there e-patients in Europe? How they differ from their counterparts in US and anglo-saxon world? Which are their activities? How to engage with them?
  • Where do expert patients connect? Is Facebook the right platform? Is privacy an issue with patients in the US and Europe?
  • How listservs create expert cancer and rare disease communities, Acor,Eurordis, Patients Like Me examples.
  • Patient demographics, ICT and healthcare
  • What do patients and doctors do in social media?
  • Should doctors assume an educator role in social media?

An extended summary of the discussion will follow in part 2 of this post.

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  1. […] Below are my notes on the workshop,  which give an extended summary οf the discussions held, as per my previous post […]

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