Strona główna ENGLISH The influential patient in Internet

The influential patient in Internet

Characteristics of an influential patient are not always that obvious. They are usually normal everyday patients who rarely cause problems face-to-face. Their opinions from the surgery are typically voiced after contact with the clinician is complete. Such patients share their thoughts and views with family, friends and people in social and professional circles. Some reach wider audiences by posting on the Internet. This can be more direct, highly visible and much more powerful because of the significantly higher number of people that can be reached online.


Artykuł ukazał się w Medical Maestro Magazine, Vol. 3, s./p. 297-444

Difficulties caused by the influential patient
Patients who talk directly with other people about doctors or medical practices are more likely to emphasise their negative opinions than the positive ones. Negative opinions are usually exaggerated, which of course can be very damaging. Various sources indicate that the spread of ‘bad publicity’ can be multiple to that of more favourable and positive reviews (Fig. 2), which seems to be true. Therefore the main threat posed by influential patients is the possibility that they will discourage others from using certain health and medical services.

As mentioned, the influential patient can reach a lot of people by publishing their opinions on the web. The firepower of such opinions can be much more damaging to those transferred by ‘word of mouth’. The biggest threats occur when criticism is posted on sites where there is no option to respond or when allegations are posted on Internet forums, which particular clinicians are unaware of or don’t subscribe to. Even if potential clients do not believe in what is written, the unfortunate fact is that ‘mud sticks’, and negative associations will probably endure. Disapproving remarks posted on the web may leave other patients-clients into considering if what has been said is true, and leave them to revaluate any positive opinions that they previously about heard the doctor in question. The real threat posed by the influential patient is the fact that even though they may be actually wrong, they still have the freedom and the right to express their views in a direct, permanent and unfair way. It is also worth mentioning that remarks published on the Internet are usually much sharper and more direct than word of mouth.

A Vertical Industry Portal (vortal) is a portal website that provides information about particular industries, including healthcare. It is worth tracking these vortals and patient forums concerned with reviews about doctors and healthcare services, because what becomes clear is that there is no middle ground and posts are usually made by people who are either very satisfied or very dissatisfied. However, in cases where entries seem too good to be true, then this can cause suspicion about legitimacy.