August 1999 Bulletin

Using the Internet to rebuild patient-physician relationship

Government bureaucracy, coupled with insurance company greed for corporate profits, has significantly infringed on how we practiced medicine in the past decade, and has significantly eroded the patient-physician trust that was present in the past. We are spending more time documenting and verifying, with significant pressure to see more patients in a shorter time frame. Your Academy Board of Directors wants to do everything in its power to help you reestablish better patient-physician communications in order to give quality care in this constricting, time-limited environment.

In an effort to maintain and enhance the patient-physician partnership, the Academy board is about to take a bold step forward and take the lead in providing current, credible and accurate information to patients by using all possible means of communications. One of the most valuable assets in which an orthopaedic surgeon can invest is the informed patient. To this end, the Academy will invest the time and technology to have a World Wide Web-based library in place this year which both the orthopaedic surgeon and his or her patient can utilize.

Access to information specific to the patient's complaint will give you and your patient an additional tool with which to work together and help back the trust. We can use this technology in this way to enhance the traditional physician-patient relationship, while allowing that patient to take a more self-determined role in his or her care. An additional benefit of having patients informed prior to their office visit is that the face-to-face time with the patient can be better spent exploring solutions to this patient's complaint, rather than spending what little time there is explaining the problem.

This will be a significant financial investment, and a decision will have to be made by the board in the next two months on proceeding with a web-based library that will be filled with medical information written for both the physician and his or her patients. Selected topics can be linked to your own web site, for which the Academy would provide a template, and to which you can refer your patients, even before the office visit.

We also can provide the most up-to-date science-based data on alternative musculoskeletal care as it becomes available.

Obviously, this resource may not be available to all our patients initially, so the Academy will maintain our existing resources (e.g. print materials, instructional videos, etc.) and will continue to make these available to our membership for patient education.

Should your Board of Directors proceed on such a course of action? Would you be willing to pay a modest monthly fee, or would you consider, in exchange for that fee, advertising on that web site?

We welcome your input by logging on to the "Member Services" section of the AAOS home page

Robert D. D'Ambrosia MD

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