Susan had chosen me because she had researched my education, read a paper I had written, determined my university affiliation and knew where I lived. It was a little too much — as if she knew how stinky and snorey I was last Sunday morning. Yes, she was simply researching important aspects of her own health care. Yes, who your surgeon is certainly affects what your surgeon does. But I was unnerved by how she brandished her information, too personal and just too rude on our first meeting.
Every doctor knows patients like this. They're called "brainsuckers." By the time they come in, they've visited many other docs already — somehow unable to stick with any of them. They have many complaints, which rarely translate to hard findings on any objective tests. They talk a lot. I often wonder, while waiting for them to pause, if there are patients like this in poor, war-torn countries where the need for doctors is more dire.
Let me ask: is this really about Google, or about annoying hypochondriac patients? Sure, I can believe that easier availability of information makes those who misuse it harder to deal with. But I also can't imagine what it must have been like to do an IVF cycle in, like, 1990—to take that huge leap, make that huge monetary bet, inject those drugs and cry those tears—without knowing what it had been like, what it is like, for other people going through it. Do I ask my doctors more questions because of what I read on line? You bet. And that's how it should be.
What's really ugly about the article is the open contempt for patients. Sure, he changed "Susan"'s name—but I'm shocked the author left his own on the article.
Meanwhile, there's a James Lang First Person column that I—gasp!— sort of agree with. I'm using Blackboard for the first time this semester too, so far just for doing things I used to hard code on my own page, and it just isn't all bad. Some of the committees I'm also use it for distributing documents, and I'm trying to convince my department to do the same. (We're, um, not meeting enough this semester. No, really, we're not, and it's a problem, and having another forum for group discussions would, I think, be helpful.)