There’s so much new out there, and this issue covers what’s new in social media (page 38), acne (page 50), and hyperhidrosis (page 42). It reminds me of an unsolicited email I received containing information about an exciting new treatment. The treatment was reported to be an innovative, safe, effective therapy that improves the elasticity of skin and treats skin irregularities. The treatment was promoted as a complementary treatment to liposuction, helping to eliminate residual fatty deposits.
In addition to all that, the treatment offered a list of “benefits.” I immediately thought, “wow, what kind of additional benefits for patients will this treatment have?” The list included substantial revenue return, daily demand, and free referrals—no
benefits for patients there! I wonder what this company thinks of doctors. They must think our idea of benefits is “substantial revenue return” and “free referrals.”
My idea of benefits is seeing our patients get well.
I’ve come to believe that as a whole, we are deeply committed to our patients—but I didn’t always. Like a malpractice attorney might believe, I used to think that there were a lot of bad apples in our profession. Patients would regularly tell me about bad experiences they had had with other doctors.
But then I thought, “there weren’t any bad apples in my medical school class.” All of us were hardworking and committed. I also realized that while I might see patients who had a bad experience with another doctor, it would be very unlikely for me to hear patients say they had a fully excellent experience in another dermatologist’s office (if they did, why would they come to see me?). How many times have you heard a patient say, “Doc, I was seeing Dr. Smith. Dr. Smith is an outstanding doctor who took great care of me and solved all my skin problems! I decided to switch and see you anyway”? We’re not likely to hear that very often, if at all.
In meeting and speaking with other doctors and health care providers from across the country, in cities large and small, I’ve been uniformly impressed with our devotion to staying on top of new developments and providing excellent medical care, our commitment to maintaining our skills and advancing our specialty, and our willingness to go out of our way to help patients (sometimes at the expense of ourselves or our families). The way the deck is dealt, though, we’re much more likely to see each other’s treatment failures than to see our successes. We need to keep in mind that all of us—dermatologists, other doctors, and other health care providers—share a common commitment to our patients’ well-being.