Dr. Alan Feller and Dr. Blake Bloxham, Great Neck, NY
One of the biggest and foulest myths in medicine is that all doctors are alike. This is simply not true. There is a very definite hierarchy based on natural ability, dedication, experience, ability to work as a team, and other factors.
As a skilled surgeon I can tell within 5 minutes what the caliber of a hair transplant doctor is, as well as their staff. But how does a person looking for a hair transplant doctor for the first time, with no such experience or insight, differentiate between surgeons and clinics ?
The immediate knee jerk answer is: results !
This would be true IF every clinic could be relied upon to post a representative sampling of their results. Something I do on a routine basis. Unfortunately most will only show their very best results and bury the rest. Thus, even a poor clinic can perform 100 procedures and get 5 or 10 results that look great, even if the rest are sub par. So how can the average person differentiate between doctors if most doctors are engaging in this activity?
The answer is simple: ask the doctor or his receptionist for the internet chat site they regularly recommend for their patients to post their own results for the world to see.
All the Top Notch clinics utilize at least one national online chat site. If nothing else it is a free way to “advertise” and connect with potential patients. That’s the up side, but only if the clinic produces consistently good work. Clinics that perform sub par procedures and thus many poor results will be exposed online rather quickly. The pressure of being exposed will usually make them go out of business; or, step up their game. I have seen this happen many times. The smart doctors work harder and go out of their way to learn at the foot of more experienced doctors so their online reputation grows. The stubborn doctors who dig their feet in believing they should not be held to account for their work on a regular basis will be steamrolled out of business.
In the old days before the internet there was no objective way to see the tangible difference between doctors in a way potential patients could understand. Now there is, and all patients should take advantage of it. Doctors who refuse to participate online have literally filtered themselves out from consideration. Of those who do participate you can view their results and their patient stories, as told by the patients themselves, and come to a conclusion as to which doctor is best for you.
If one or more of the doctors you are considering is in fact posting on a chat forum do the following:
Go to the chat site, find the search function, and simply enter in the doctors name.
Check out how many posts have been written BY or ABOUT that doctor
Note when the doctor and/or his patients joined the site. This will give you an idea of their experience level. At this point there should be no doctor with experience of ten or more years that does not have ten years worth of posts in a chat forum somewhere. If their posts only started a year or two or three ago, then they really have not been specializing in HT for very long. In my case my very first posts went up in 1999. For the colleagues that I admire and respect all have at least 10 years of postings online by them and/or their own patients.
Note how many posts have been written by and about that doctor. This is another indication of how busy and experienced they are. If one doctor has 10 posts and another has 500, you can pretty much bet the one with 500 more posts is the superior doctor and the more dedicated practitioner. You want someone who loves what they do and wants to share it with the world.
Pick 4 experiences written by patients for each year the doctor and his patients have been posting. This sampling will alert you as to how consistent the doctor is.
Note how many before/after photos have been posted by the doctor and the patients themselves. If it’s about half a dozen or a dozen that is a bad sign. Any doctor worth going to for a procedure in 2017 (the year this article was published) already has hundreds of results photos posted by themselves and their patients.
Notice how many questions the doctor bothers to answer online in the name of compassion. Meaning they answer the concerns of the patients of OTHER doctors.
Does the doctor make his own posts, or is it always a representative ? Many doctors do not want to post in chat forums because they believe it is beneath them. Others are simply afraid to face public scrutiny. I personally have participated online since 1999. While I have also employed representatives to post for me, that was always in parallel with my own direct contribution, never in place of it.
Consumers “in the know” understand that there is a lot of data online. If you want to buy a new dishwasher, go to Consumer Reports. But if you want to find out the real information about your doctor, go to a chat forum. I tell my patients to grab a can of soda and go through the list above. And by the time they finish the soda they will know ten times more about their prospective doctor than any patient could ever know prior to the internet. Should that patient then make an appointment to meet that doctor, he will already have a familiarity and comfort level that will enhance the consultation experience and help tremendously in the selection process. Remember, you only have one scalp. Don’t trust it to just anyone. Do some research on a chat forum and choose wisely. An informed patient is by far and away the best patient. Happy researching.