Angry Doctor

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Confidence Goods 14

Does this sound familiar?


Website to put up hospital ‘scoreboard’
Cancer support website to collect public feedback on patient services
by Lin Yanqin

FROM time to time, medical professionals may need gentle reminders to show more empathy and care when dealing with patients.

And the founder of a cancer support website hopes to do just that, by helping members of the public send notes to doctors and nurses from public hospitals whom they feel have not carried out their duties well.

So that such feedback does not go unnoticed, the number of such notes - called “Smart Chips” - received by each hospital will be tallied on a “scoreboard” on the website www.cancerstory.com.

Said website founder Lee Soh Hong, 47: “By having members of the public come together to express their concern, I think it will draw the public hospitals’ attention and help them realise that they need to do something about their shortcomings.”


But the idea has drawn criticism from some medical professionals, who doubt the effectiveness of such a feedback mechanism.

Ms Lee, a freelance accountant, started this initiative following the feedback she received on the book she wrote last year about her father’s death and her negative experience with the care he received in a public hospital.

Changi General Hospital chief executive officer T K Udairam felt that the scoreboard created an unfair basis for comparison.

“Some of the public hospitals are large and see a huge volume of patients, so it’s likely they will gather more notes and feedback than other hospitals,” he said. Hence, it would be unfair to draw conclusions based on numbers alone.

The hospital has five different feedback mechanisms, all of which are actively used. “We get emails and calls every day,” said Mr Udairam.

“It’s a complex balance between the patient’s expectations and whether we can meet them as a public hospital, and I don’t know if this (initiative) can address (the complexities).”

A nurse from a public hospital said she did not understand the need for the initiative, since patients can send their feedback to the hospital or the medical personnel themselves.

“I think it’s more sensible to encourage communication between the public and us,” said the 34-year-old nurse, who declined to be named. “This seems roundabout.”

Ms Lee acknowledged that the initiative was not a perfect solution. “I have spoken to doctors and nurses I know, and while they were encouraging, they also said that it’s up to (individuals) whether they take the message to heart,” she said.

“There is no quick fix to influence others, and it will take time for Smart Chips to be successful in reminding doctors and nurses to play their roles professionally. But I think it’s worth a try.”

Ms Dorothy Tan, 46, an accounts and admin manager and a supporter of the initiative, felt it was a good move.

“It’s another outlet for people to make their feelings known and I think it creates a bigger sense of accountability for improvement for the hospitals,” said Ms Tan.


If it does, maybe it's because you read about a similar idea here almost three years ago?

It is difficult to predict how Ms Lee's project will turn out, but angry doc is not optimistic that such a scheme will improve the quality of care delivered by the hospitals. angry doc doesn't care if his patients feel good after seeing him - he just wants them to get better. He eagerly awaits his first "chip".

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6 Comments:

  • Hi angrydr,

    just wondering what are your thoughts on this:

    Making a patient feel good and gaining a patient's trust might actually increase his/her medication compliance and hence better outcome.

    By Blogger I must be stupid, At June 20, 2009 10:08 am  

  • Might. Provided the treatment you give is efficacious to begin with. Many alternative medicine practitioners make patients feel good and can gain their confidence.

    Patients should learn to value a consultation on the quality of care given, not the service. Doctors and institutions should not reinforce the current expectations.

    By Blogger angry doc, At June 20, 2009 10:22 am  

  • Medicine is, and must never be, a service industry.

    While doctors should aim to be empathic, patients likewise must strive to be appreciative patients.

    It should work both ways.


    Too much emphasis has been placed on how doctors should improve ourselves. But it takes good patients to bring out the best in doctors too.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At June 20, 2009 10:14 pm  

  • I don't expect patients to be appreciative, but I expect them to be honest and to not tell me how to do my job.

    In fact I hate appreciative and grateful patients - they make me feel I have to be nice back to them. Just get better with my treatment the way you are supposed to.

    By Blogger angry doc, At June 20, 2009 11:07 pm  

  • "I don't expect patients to be appreciative, but I expect them to be honest and to not tell me how to do my job.

    In fact I hate appreciative and grateful patients - they make me feel I have to be nice back to them. Just get better with my treatment the way you are supposed to."

    How do you know if your patient are not being honest? How do you know if all docs are honest? Do you really 'cure' your patient or just reduce the uncomfortable symptoms temporarily?! Your statement is so arrogant!

    Since 7 yrs old, I have been "diagnosed" as having gastritis. After more than 20yrs, i know very well what to do during gastric attack. Tho my gastric attack occurs abnormally(or so said 1 of the doc): Ard 19 yrs old, it's once every 3-4 mths, and increasing frequency as time past. Ard 28, I'm like having gastric attack every mth. The attack is serious spasm of intestine(?) which last 1 hr, I was practically blackout when it ends, and my clothes soaked with the cold sweat.
    --I visit the same clinic till i move hse(occasionally others when the one i see is closed), even seeing specialists and scope. Besides the normal anti-spasm pills which reduce pain,etc when attack occurs, the only thing doc can do is giving me mc to rest.
    I rem 1 doc i saw actually say:"just like tat, nothing else?"
    It's VERY callous thing to say when u do not need to go thru such pain and u can't relieve my pain nor reduce the frequency!

    Best part is, when i go China for overseas study, due to unnatural duration and extent of pain, I went to see doc over there. Voila! The diagnosis is teratoma growth, not gastric pain. It was by then 14 by 18 by 20 cm big and need to be remove asap.

    After surgery, I no longer suffers any gastric pains, including the gastric attack.

    Then i realised I had ache in lower abdomen pain for long time, saw gynae in Spore for past 3 yrs, and they still dun know why.

    So i went to China again recently to visit the doc there, within half a day, their gynae dept cleared me of any ailment tat's to do with gynae and redirect me to internal medicine(?)-digestive dept. And specialist there provide me with a plausible diagnosis.

    So much for the professionalism and expertise of Spore docs/specialists. After getting so much $$ for consultation and not necessarily able to cure their ailments, least you could do is make patient feel better in spite of their pains!

    After all, bcos of the yrs of misdiagnosis, i am now the one suffering from their mistake! --the many, many after-effects.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At July 04, 2009 9:05 pm  

  • "After getting so much $$ for consultation and not necessarily able to cure their ailments, least you could do is make patient feel better in spite of their pains!"

    I see... you want doctors who take your money, don't necessarily make you better, but make you *feel* better?

    By Blogger angry doc, At July 04, 2009 9:38 pm  

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