Healthcare and Social Media : A patient’s thoughts… 

Why see a doctor 200 miles away when you live 20 miles from one of the United States’ fifth most populated cities?  One word: relationship.  Thirteen years ago I was a young college kid with a simple meniscus tear and I went to a doctor based on who was covered in my insurance.  When that experience led me to more knee problems rather than repairs, another physician suggested posting my case to this “internet” community of orthopedic surgeons.  That’s how I met Dr. Howard Luks, an Orthopedic Surgeon in Westchester County , New York.

I In 1999 Apple still operated on it’s classic OS platform, I was still using Netscape for email and being on a college campus I was in the growing majority of American’s using the internet and email as communication tools.  With nothing to loose, I traveled three states away to have a consult with a physician that found me on a website.  For the first time, I was in control of my own health care.  I met with Dr. Luks for a second opinion and it was like attending a town hall meeting.  We exchanged dialog, he taught me about his diagnosis for my knee.  That first meeting wasn’t finished until I said it was done.  Dr. Luks still will never end a conversation, it always takes me to say, “I think that’s it” for us to stand up and shake hands.  

I always leave a meeting with Dr. Luks more educated, more prepared and more aware of my injury

It is because of this relationship that I’ve returned to be the athlete I’d always been.  He provided the mechanical repair to my knee, but more importantly was available to discuss my questions beyond the physical doctor’s office.  With his expertise and my determination I returned to the tennis court, ski slopes and outdoors.  Unfortunately, my choice in sports provided a few more opportunities to return to Dr. Luks’ office, the last of which was three weeks ago.

Today I’m a 33 year old mother trying to keep up with a precocious two year old while recovering from ACL reconstruction, but still refuse to give up skiing.  When this injury presented itself, I turned on my computer, emailed Dr. Luks and opened up over a decade of dialog.  He knew who I was, knew my history and 200 miles wasn’t going to keep me away this time either.  I follow him on Twitter to help keep myself educated and will even web-chat with him if one of my extensive emails is too much to respond to by typing.

I only wish I could find more physicians like him to continue the dialog we’ve started.

 I chose my daughter’s pediatrician based as much on their website as on their vaccination schedule.  As I’m in the process of finding a new primary doctor, I immediately ruled out those that aren’t on Facebook.

We are in the digital era and I am thankful that Dr. Luks has given me the experience to know our physicians can join us here.  I expect my doctor’s to be human – an email at 2:30am does not need to be answered just because it was a convenient time for me to send it.  However, the fact that it is available as a means to a discussion either online or at our next meeting is not too much to ask.  I have become an educated patient and work together with my orthopedic surgeon to make a plan that works for me based on his expertise and knowledge.

That is why I travel 200 miles away to see a doctor.

L.D …  

with my express permission and desire to post this as a guest blog 🙂