Doctors in a Wired World: Can Professionalism Survive Connectivity?

The information revolution has the potential to reduce the asymmetry of information between patients and doctors and thereby to undermine a central pillar of physicians’ claim to professional status: the possession of distinctive competence based on technical know-how selflessly applied and collectively monitored. A close analysis of the information revolution’s likely effects suggests that for some patients with some conditions, their access to more and better information will indeed reduce the magic, mystery, and power of the medical profession. However, the information revolution also offers opportunities for physicians to bolster the cognitive and moral bases of professionalism. To seize those opportunities, physicians must master new roles and skills and avoid unacceptable conflicts of interest.

Author(s): David Blumenthal

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Volume 80, Issue 3 (pages 525–546)
DOI: 10.1111/1468-0009.00021
Published in 2002