The Maddening Way That TV Docs Affect Your Practice

Shelly Reese


September 18, 2014

In This Article

What's a Doctor to Do?

To rectify the situation, Dr. Kumar keeps abreast of the health information that TV talk shows and newscasts are broadcasting so that he can anticipate patients' questions. He spends several hours a week watching reruns and searching the Internet for articles and sites that provide reliable information on the topics being discussed. That way he can respond to patients' questions but also refer them to sources where they can educate themselves.

He admits that the effort is time-consuming but believes that it translates to greater patient engagement because patients ultimately come to their own decision about questionable treatments.

Dr. Liu says that she emphasizes the individuality of healthcare when talking with her patients. She points out that as a patient's personal physician, she understands their individual needs better than a television doctor speaking broadly about a topic outside his or her area of specialization. "I try to remind them of the grayness of things: This is a TV show talking to millions of people, and you are a specific individual. The things they tell millions of people may not apply to you. People like to think they are special, so that generally works."

Above all, Dr. Chou says, he uses the conversations to dig deeper. "We live in the world we live in, and we need to be patient-centric and respond to what our patients want to talk about," he says. "If they want to take caffeine extract, we need to understand why. What are the issues they are trying to address? What are the causes of their obesity? We need to use these conversations as a way to address root causes and to find out what nontraditional avenues they may be exploring on their own."


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