What if the Dog Ate my Homework?

In a recent piece for the Huffington Post, Dr. Michael Yaremchuk writes about the experience of people in the US seeking out cosmetic procedures abroad.  He describes a circumstance in which cost weighs disproportionately on the decision for treatment and ultimately leads people to opt in to poor quality procedures.  This is definitely a regrettable circumstance, and I agree that a comprehensive search based on all relevant criteria (quality of outcome, # of procedures performed, complication rates, etc.) is imperative.

However, I disagree with Dr. Yaremchuk’s following comment: “With easily accessible information and communication provided by the Internet, the savvy patient can find procedures that might be otherwise unavailable to them or a surgeon who has recognized expertise in the procedure they desire.”  I would argue that by and large people do take these non-cost related factors into account (including the absence of said data) and what is flawed is the search process itself.  Even if I do all of my homework (an exhaustive search), cross the t’s and dot the i’s, the dog can still eat it.

Where do I find complication rates for doctors in the US or abroad and how accurate would this data be?  If I find a glowing patient testimonial on a doctor’s website, how do I know whether it’s a fair proxy for the average patient’s experience or the exception?  If a medical tourism facilitator recommends a doctor to me, how do I know the nature of their working relationship and if in fact it is the best doctor for me or just someone’s best buddy?  Whether looking for a doctor in New York, New Mexico, or the Netherlands I am still confronted with the same challenges in trying to corral some objectivity amidst the information.  Given that people do take the necessary steps/precautions in conducting their search for healthcare options, it is an improvement in the tools they use to do so that is necessary to bridge the gap.

by Ellery Bledsoe

HuliHealth

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San Jose, Costa Rica http://www.hulihealth.com

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