I was interested to see that the daytime, syndicated television show, “The Doctors” is doing well. Oh PLUHLEEZE! Here we go once again with two things that really bug me: 1) doctors are featured as experts and there is no patient on the panel and 2) it makes health concerns entertainment, putting an emphasis on the looks of the doctors and their “star power” more than the humanity and real “pain”of the issues.
As an aside, I heard that that the lead doctor on the show, Dr. Travis Stork, had already been a big hit on “The Bachelor.” Then, in passing during a pre-interview with a Patient Power expert at Vanderbilt Medical Center the other day, he shared how Dr. Stork, formerly a Vanderbilt E.R. doc, was “discovered.” Apparently, he was walking in Nashville at lunchtime and the producers of the Bachelor spotted him as they were hunting for handsome men. When they learned he was a doctor who was single they were sold. After that success on “The Bachelor” Dr. Stork was a natural for a daytime TV talk show on medical topics.
The problem with the success of this latest show is that it will spawn others just like it. The NY Times wrote last week that CNN is now considering a show with a panel of docs if Dr. Gupta becomes Surgeon General in the Obama Administration: once again putting the docs in first position with no place for the equal voice of experienced, smart, even “expert” patients.
My big beef is that this persists throughout the traditional media. On the Internet and at health town meetings around the world, patients are connecting with patients and trading vital information. But on TV and radio it’s the same old story, the doctor knows best. Then if you cast a big tall “hunk” as one of the doctor/panelists it elevates the doctor even more – a celebrity, with the normal folks down there in the audience.
When will the producers learn? Not yet, because a big segment of daytime viewers think this is just fine. Wake up folks! We need our place on the panel, we need to share our story and counsel others, we are experts too!
Just for fun, I went online on “The Doctors” website and submitted myself, a 58-year-old male leukemia survivor, as a guest. Do you think I have a “knats chance in hell” of being selected? I think not.
OK, I have sounded off. If the TV and Radio media fail to feature patients as anything but people to write prescriptions for or anesthetize for surgery, we’ll make an end run around them, patient-to-patient, on the Internet. And as our new President acknowledges, the Internet is where it’s at. It won’t be long before we say goodbye to daytime TV. It may not be a boig deal for the cast of “The Doctors,” Dr. Stork will probably be married soon, anyway.
Wishing you and your family the best of health,