About the author:

Howard J. Luks, MD

Howard J. Luks, MD

A Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon in Hawthorne, NY. Dr. Howard Luks specializes in the treatment of the shoulder, knee, elbow, and ankle. He has a very "social" patient centric approach and believes that the more you understand about your issue, the more informed your decisions will be. Ultimately your treatments and his recommendations will be based on proper communications, proper understanding, and shared decision-making principles – all geared to improve your quality of life.

16 comments on “Healthcare & Social Media: Are e-Patients Crossing the Line?

  • “Collaborating with patients could make them better doctors” that is such an important and pivotal statement in regards to health care. Collaboration in the true sense of the word makes health care safer at every level. No one has the needs of the patient at heart more than the patient themselves. Blind faith in anyone is dangerous. However, when the doctor listens, respects and values the patient, trust develops and trust itself, when well placed, is therapeutic.

    In my field of maternity care, when care is collaborative and women lead the care; when women are informed and have choices in what happens to them, the outcomes for women and babies are optimised. When professionals are in silos and hierarchical decision making is valued, communication between professionals and women is compromised, women feel ‘done to’ and no one feels good about themselves. My research http://hdl.handle.net/1959.13/29305 showed that care becomes robotic under those circumstances and emotional and social intelligence goes down the drain. Collaborative care ensures everyone is able to contribute, make appropriate decisions, act intelligently and feel good, especially crucial for the woman and her baby. In terms of women using social media to find out their rights and the best care, that’s fantastic – we need more of it.

  • This is a great and very timely article.

    I am a hip replacement patient that runs a patient focused website and it sometimes scares me the sort of questions I get asked. Why are patients ready to trust a complete stranger with no medical qualifications rather than go back to their doctor?

    One issue for most patients (me included) is that we don’t know the questions we need to ask at the time we’re talking to our doctor or we feel too embarrassed to ask too many questions (me definitely not included!)

    Patients need to be heard and need to know they have been heard.
    all the best

    • Ha! Perhaps it *should* be negotiated, but sorry doc, when was the last time you had a patient seriously try to negotiate anything with you?

      From a patient perspective, it can be a scary thing to try and “negotiate”. What if the doctor then refuses to treat you, because they’re affronted by your attempt and (as they may see it) insult to their professional abilities? What if your family also goes to this doctor? Are you affecting the care of your loved ones by trying to become involved in your own?

      Those without power have a hard time negotiating anything, especially when they’re not willing/able to “negotiate” with their feet.

    • Thank you for your comment Dr. V. Your description does sound like the ideal.

      Unfortunately, with years of managing chronic illness & being the mother of 5 children from age 6 to 21 (2 with disabilities), I’ve only known one practitioner like you describe. She is my current pediatrician NP and I am thankful for her every day. There is a great deal of peace of mind to know that I can tell her or ask anything and she is never defensive, but only wants what is best for my kids. She always wants me to make the final decision.

      I don’t ever argue with a doctor, but the one time I did attempt any “participation” in my RA care, my doctor instantly “fired me.” As Jon says, this is the risk we take. And in some cases, the consequences are grave. I had looked for years to find a good rheumatologist.

      Although I was correct factually (with regard to the bone scan http://rawarrior.com/my-doctor-fired-me/ ), I might rather have continued to have medical care in my serious condition. The cost I paid for 1 polite letter requesting a 2nd opinion may not have been worth it.

  • Thank you for such a thought provoking post. It did provoke many responses from me.

    Part of me wants to answer this as a patient. Part of me wants to answer this as a professional. Part of me wants to answer this as a caretaker of patients. And part of me wishes to change the culture of medicine to one less adversarial for all with a less litigious and fearful defensive atmosphere.


  • I found this post to be very germane to the whole health care industry today including nurses and other hospital workers, not just doctors. Unfortunately, hospitals tend to become very “institutionalized” and set in the ways that have more or less “worked” for years and years. I believe that this is due in part to the increased age of many of the senior staff members – I can say this without undue bias being an older health care professional myself. My advantage is that I am married to a younger woman who, as owner of a maketing agency, is actively engaged in all media aspects including social media. She is bringing me kicking and screaming into the social media age and gaining an understanding of the extent of information available on line.
    Thank you for addressing this timely issue.

  • I think the problem goes beyond doctors. Obscure forces (just using a rhetorical figure) have settle down on health care industry, just like pharmaceuthicals and insureance corporations. I think the problem is not only malpractice but corporate interests that are usually different from healt care requirements and needs.

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