Dr. Leana Wen’s Transparency Campaign Receives Backlash From Doctors, Support From Patients

dr. leana wenDr. Leana Wen, an ER physician, aims to transform the medical industry by encouraging doctors to disclose personal conflicts of interest to the public. Her campaign, Who’s My Doctor, has created a divide in the healthcare community.

Many physicians find the campaign to be an unnecessary invasion of privacy that may plant distrustful assumptions in patients’ minds that weren’t necessarily there. After all, as argued by the ACC’s Dr. Williams, Gallup polls have shown that physicians rank as the third most trusted profession, following nurses and pharmacists. Others have pointed out that the Sunshine Act already requires manufacturers of drugs, medical devices and biologicals that participate in federal healthcare programs to report payments. Besides, how can a physician explain complicated payment policies without losing precious treatment time?

On the other hand, physicians who support the campaign believe that telling patients where they get their money will address fears about how affiliations with drug and medical device companies affect prescriptions. These physicians aim to create a baseline of trust and mutual respect with patients through Wen’s site, which is more personal and accessible than federal records.

While only 34 physicians have created “transparent” profiles on Who’s My Doctor, Wen claims to have received support from patients. Perhaps the kernel to take away from this polarizing experiment is that medical professionals are unsure which platform is best suited to address the concept of transparency: federal records, a public database, personal websites, or medical marketing services… Or, would it be best to take for granted the baseline of trust between patients and physicians, which Wen believes is currently too weak?

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