Prostate Laser Ablation: The Power Of Patient Reviews

Dan Sperling, MD

Where would you turn if you were seeking someone reliable and trustworthy to design a deck, repair your roof, or sand your hardwood floors? If you are one of the 1.5 million paid subscribers to Angie’s List, you turn to the List because you know the power of testimony gathered one person at a time. Each month, members submit 40,000 reviews of service professionals. The more positive the reviews, the more credible the service provider. According to Wikipedia, “The concept behind the website is to certify their data collection process by only allowing paid and registered subscribers to access the website, in order to prevent anonymous or biased reviews.”

I am not aware of a comparable paid subscription service for people seeking medical care. Free sites like www.healthgrades.com offers healthcare consumers a no-cost, no-obligation opportunity to rate doctors from whom they have received care. Perhaps it is just a matter of time before someone comes up with a paid subscription service. For now, patient “reviews” tend to show up in blogs.

I am honored that a patient I recently treated with MRI-guided laser ablation of the prostate took the time to contribute his testimony to an online health and wellness community, www.inspire.com. Inspire’s tag line is “Together we’re better.” Undoubtedly, the 3,000,000 entries posted there are proof positive of the value of collective information, knowledge and support.

I am not equating Inspire.Com with Angie’s List. They are two very different models, with a parallel mission to amass and harness intelligence in serving people’s needs, be it for life-and-death issues (Inspire) or the time-consuming and often frustrating logistics of finding good vendors (Angie’s List).

What they have in common is the Power of One. One person at a time, stories and reviews are collected and made easy to find.

I am blessed by the willingness of former patients to share their experience with prostate laser ablation for small tumors. There are two fine accounts on my own site, and I am grateful to these men. Now, on top of that, I am moved that my recent patient spontaneously reached out to Inspirt, a very large community that includes not just cancer patients but those with an array of clinical conditions.

Every conscientious doctor does his or her best for patients, and each of us knows that not all procedures go as planned. This is a reality in clinical care, and it is humbling. It is a good day when a procedure goes well, and it gets even better when we learn that our patients are happy with their choices and our efforts on their behalf.

You can read the account of my patient (name withheld) at https://www.inspire.com/groups/us-too-prostate-cancer/discussion/laser-ablation-for-prostate-cancer/. If he should read this article on patient reviews, I want him to know that he has my deepest appreciation for adding his own Power of One as word gradually gets out about MRI-guided laser ablation of the prostate. Thank you!

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