When will physicians and patients interact on- and off-line?

getting better with Dr ValI read a great blog post on Monday from Dr. Val Jones, on her blog Getting Better with Dr. Val. Please read it because it highlights an issue that has been bugging me, too. While I love that consumers are taking a more active role in managing their health through online tools, social networks, conferences, blogs and the like, I wonder when physicians and patients will start interacting in a meaningful way. Dr. Val lists a plethora of conferences that have blossomed over the past few years focused on the digital patient/health consumer. Yet it's rare to find practicing physicians at any of these events. There are many plausible reasons for this (lack of time, interest, pure clinical education), but the fact remains that patients and physicians still live in different worlds. I remember being struck by the absence of physician input at the last Health 2.0 conference I attended (March in San Diego). Some of the comments made by panelists and audience members made the doctor seem like an extinct animal.

The fact is that patients need real doctors and doctors need real patients. As Dr. Val points out, "There is no more critical time than this for providers and patients to join forces to guide the development of new online health initiatives. The successful execution of digital health platforms requires a patient-provider partnership." I couldn't agree more.