Does publishing, putting on line, on your website images whether they are photographs or video clips put prospective patients off? It is a question I often ponder on when I do so. I know Facebook won’t allow me to use an image of an inflamed ingrown toenail for promotional purposes. Does actually seeing what is involved in a surgical procedure scare people away from actually booking an appointment? I think in reflection it does.
One of the procedures our clinic performs is the removal of chronic hard to treat fungal toenails, those which need to be removed to a give the patient the best chance of a healthy infection free nail growing back. It sounds like a very drastic and painful procedure to perform. Just the idea of having a nail plate removed seems to stir up feelings of revulsion and fear. To try and allay some of these knee-jerk reactions I have published before and after images including short film clips to demonstrate how effective this approach is, especially regarding there being very little pre and post- operative discomfort and gore!
Nail plates when removed always grow back and the nail bed heals up very quickly with little to no pain. I can verbally tell patients this, but often my word are not enough. Words need to be backed-up with clinical evidence, hence I decided to show photographic evidence to visually give the patient clinical undisputed evidence. This approach can work in clinic, but at home when researching a prospective treatment remedy online it can have the reverse effect. Less prospective enquiries. It literally can frighten people to think; “Ooooh, I am not having that!”
It is because of this that I have made the decision to stop publishing such graphic images. People may have a morbid curiosity and be fascinated and drawn to graphic sites like Dr Pimple Picker, but if it involves an issue or condition, they have, they will advert their gaze. Ignorance is bliss. I have personal experience of this.
I am awaiting a total knee replacement, but I won’t look at any online images of operational procedures. They make me shudder and I am medical professional, so is this an irrational reaction? No, it isn’t, it is a normal human reaction of; “I would rather not know what is involved until I must”.
I will put all my faith in my surgeon and trust he will give me a good surgical outcome. I don’t want the blood and gore imagery because it is too direct and personal to my specific problem. It may educate me, but it can also make me more anxious, so hence I need to censor my own graphic material. I will try to use words only and bloodless imagery to succinctly explain and convey the rationale of why we perform specialist procedures for particular problems, to deliver optimal safe and effective outcomes, with little to no pre or post- operative discomfort. I don’t want to inadvertently frighten people away when I am the specialist to actually resolve their issues, and to blow my own trumpet, I am good and Ii know what I am doing! I have years of experience to know what works and what doesn’t. Don’t think a ‘radical’ gory option is always the preferred choice when a there is simple less invasive option to offer. A good consultation and assessment is key to treatment understanding and selection.