How much should patients know about their doctors?

How much should patients know about their physicians? Transparency should go further than some doctors say is necessary, Leana Wen, M.D., founder of the Who's My Doctor blog, told the Boston Globe.

On the website launched last spring, Wen reveals in her own profile details beyond what a standard insurance company listing would include, such as how much of her income comes from clinical work versus research and other projects. Her profile also notes that she received no money in industry gifts, along with brief facts about her personal life and a detailed philosophy of practice, which describes how her mother's diagnosis of breast cancer influenced her career.

"I think patients want to know if their doctor is salaried at a hospital or is fee for service, meaning that the doctor gains financially every time a procedure or test is performed in the office," said Wen, who recently left Boston where she was an emergency medicine resident at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Other information that is relevant to patients includes their doctor's position on abortion or comfort level in treating transgender patients, she added. Giving patients access to this type of information is also a good way to start a conversation with them about issues such as overuse of healthcare resources, noted Aaron Stupple, M.D., an internal medicine physician who is among the 300 who signed a transparency manifesto on the site.

But while many doctors applaud Wen's championing of transparency, only 30 posted profiles to the site so far. For Joshua Kosowsky, M.D., vice chair and clinical director of Brigham and Women's Hospital's emergency department, who co-authored the book with Wen, a physician's philosophy of medical care is too complicated to put into words on a brief profile, he told the newspaper.

To learn more:
- read the article
- see the blog