Patient Consumerism

Patient consumerism—the practice, broadly speaking, of bypassing physicians when obtaining medical information, goods, and services—has been gaining ground for decades, with a giant boost from the Internet. The trend has advantages and challenges. On the upside, patients can become more informed about, and take more responsibility for, their health. On the downside, they may be acting on incomplete or inaccurate information—much of it provided by direct-to-consumer ads—and obtaining unregulated drugs or treatments. Physicians find themselves using valuable office visit minutes to correct misinformation. Contributors to October’s issue give voice to the many sides of the patient consumerism debate.

Volume 15, Number 11: 921-1009 Full Issue PDF