3 July 2017

Doctors and the fantasy of access


When I talk to doctors about social media everyone asks about access, writes US-based paediatric gastroenterologist Dr Bryan Vartabedian.

Access to the doctor has increased over the years.

First it was the telephone.

Then it was the pager.

After that was the car phone, the cell phone, and the smart phone.

Then it was email and MyChart.

A long time ago at the dawn of the social age, Wes Fisher called this emerging phenomenon “time creep” (I can’t find a link but he definitely described this). His point was that the more tools we all have, the more accessible we are.

Because in the mid-2000s we thought social would be the ultimate connector. All access all the time. But the doctors never really showed up. And privacy laws put a wet blanket on the whole lets-talk-about-my-fistula-on-Twitter thing.

Access is good. But too much access may not be a good thing. Be it on social or by phone. I don’t want to talk to my neurologist after her second glass of pinot noir on Saturday night.

This is the fantasy of access. We want to believe that our doctor’s always there at the end of the line. Ready and waiting.

But doctors shouldn’t be accessible to their patients all the time. In order to be our best, our lives demand other things.

It’s what’s best for the patients.

This blog was originally published on 33charts.

Dr Bryan Vartabedian is a paediatric gastroenterologist at Baylor College of Medicine.