Healthcare

Forum: Doctors value efficacy over customer experience

A posed photo of a doctor examining a patient.
A posed photo of a doctor examining a patient.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Wouldn't it be nice to be able to find a five-star therapist like we find a five-star restaurant? Some websites and services certainly think so, and have created this service for consumers to find the best-reviewed doctors and the top-ranking psychologists.

While their intentions may be good, it presents more problems than it solves. The recent debacle involving a website that puts up doctors' profiles and reviews brings some of these issues to light (Docs up in arms over website listing their profiles, Nov 14).

The three issues involve consent to representation, potential fake reviews and conflict of interest involving undeclared paid advertisement.

One can easily find similar lists for psychologists in Singapore. What is unclear are the criteria needed to qualify to be on the list.

When it comes to healthcare, there are two big factors: efficacy and customer experience.

To a healthcare professional, efficacy holds priority over the customer experience. Ideally, a patient or client can achieve good healthcare goals while enjoying the experience. But if forced to decide, a well-trained healthcare professional may sacrifice the customer experience for efficacy.

For example, your doctor will make sure you take your bitter medicine despite your reluctance to do so. So healthcare may not be the most pleasant experience, but it is a necessary one, and can't be rated like a "nice-to-have" experience.

When looking for a therapist, psychologist or healthcare professional, find one who meets educational standards, training standards and ethical standards.

Some countries have boards to ensure that the healthcare professionals meet these standards by doing due diligence in checking and maintaining their registered professionals.

In Singapore, the Singapore Psychological Society (SPS) established the Singapore Register of Psychologists in 2001. It is a voluntary regulatory system that promotes transparency, accountability and professionalism for the psychological services provided. The list of registered psychologists can be found on the SPS website.

Chai Karyen

Communications Chair

Singapore Psychological Society

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2020, with the headline 'Doctors value efficacy over customer experience'. Print Edition | Subscribe