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My Utopia: Total Transparency Between Doctor And Patient

I finally subscribed to TEDTalks after watching many of their offerings on YouTube. For those of you unfamiliar with TedTalks here, in their own words, is what they are about:

“TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984…and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world.”

Each day sends me an email featuring talks that cover a variety of topics, from Activism and Aging to Women in Business and Youth.

One talk in particular caught my eye called, “What Your Doctor Won’t Disclose” by Leana Wen, an emergency technician and public health advocate. She told the story of a hysterical call she received from her mother who had Stage 4 cancer. After many sessions of chemotherapy her mom needed to call her doctor but misplaced her phonebook. Searching on the Internet for his number she found her doctor, but what she read frightened her.

Her doctor was a paid spokesman for the drug company that manufactured her chemotherapy treatments. Was she receiving the best possible treatment for her cancer, or was it prescribed to place more cash in the pocket of her physician?

Wen, a Rhode Scholar and fellow for the World Health Organization, was outraged and this led her to begin a campaign for radical transparency in medicine through her website “Who’s My Doctor?” It creates a manifesto for doctors to sign as a way of keeping them accountable to patients, helping to build trust and create a partnership between doctor and patient.

This could help transform our healthcare system by prioritizing the needs and values of all patients. Doctors who sign the manifesto voluntarily disclose financial conflicts and personal views on such topics as how they feel about treating a patient in the gay community or what their thoughts are on end-of-life decisions.

Wouldn’t it be comforting to find a physician who we can choose based on our core values, knowing that our doctors value us as human beings? Someone we feel comfortable enough to talk to on any issue with no fears or restrictions?

I’ve changed doctors many times over the years after being rushed through appointments or when doctor didn’t answer my questions. I’ve dreamed of a website where I could find out more about doctors other than where they went to school or what their specialties are.

Imagine total transparency between doctor and patient, bridging a gap that transforms us into a solid medical team. That would make our MS journey a lot easier by knowing we could depend on our physicians to prescribe the right medications or alternative treatments for us, without the need to wonder whether or not it was the best route for us.

Take a look at the TEDTalk I watched and let me know what you think. I think you’ll be as excited as I was. And, perhaps, we can get our own physicians to sign this important manifesto.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Stacy
    5 years ago

    Cathy…is there a way to contact you directly? I read your brief bio & noticed we have more in common than just MS! I’m 54, DX’d in 1985 w/MS.

  • Stacy
    5 years ago

    Hi Cathy!
    Oh what we lay people (don’t know) about our doctors, healthcare, & BIG pharmaceutical companies!!! Billions of $’s worth of perks & persuasion. Yes, “kickbacks” have been illegal for some time now – but believe me, doctors (not all) still profit in a BIG way. A BIG, BIG way. But since our politicians write the laws…why should anyone be surprised?

  • chalknpens
    5 years ago

    Love the TED series … always relevant, honest and encouraging. I first began watching them as a public school teacher watching so many communities struggling with budget cuts that seemed to maliciously mirror in reverse the increasing diagnoses of autism and other disorders of children and their families. Now I listen in as a person with a diagnosis of MS who has finally found a neurologist who treats me as a person rather than as the 438th folder on the sixth shelf behind the receptionist’s desk. I have never encountered a pharmaceutical rep holding a free hot steaming cup of coffee brought for my doctor and seeing him or her ushered in for a ‘quick meet’ between patient appointments. They are out there. But they may still be in the minority. Wishing this young lady well with her endeavor.

  • Cathy Chester moderator author
    5 years ago

    So glad you enjoyed the article, chalknpens, and glad you found such a wonderful physician!

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