There's been a fairly vigorous reaction to health minister Ben Bradshaw's proposal to allow patients to rate and review their general practitioner on the web.
Reading the blogs and the newspapers, I'd say the vote is probably running 4 to 1 against, with many familiar - and valid - arguments on both sides. Yes, we want more openness, more accountability for apparently aloof professionals. No, we don't want medical decisionmaking to pander to all demands, a site that encourages manipulative behaviour, spurious statistics.
One of the strong themes running through the critical comments - from both doctors and patients - has been a strong resistance to the idea of patients being asked to act as customers. 'We don't want to read or write reviews, nor score our doctors,' say the patients. 'We just want our doctors to be good, and trust them.'
But is asking patients to behave as customers what Ben Bradshaw had in mind when he announced the policy? Well, yes, it seems to be. For example, the Guardian reported:
'I would never think of going on holiday without cross-referencing at
least two guide books and using Trip Adviser,' said Bradshaw. 'We need
to do something similar for the modern generation in healthcare.'
Fair enough - but, in 2009, isn't this starting to feel a little Web 1.0? Is the 'Choosing what to buy' metaphor the best we can do?
Web 2.0 (this isn't exactly news) offers much more - the chance to move from customer to community, from me to us, from buying something to building something, together. As Ivo Gormley's recent film Us Now makes clear.
Our resolution for 2009 is to find ways to use the web to move from feedback on the web to change in the real world.