Let’s answer a question from the game show Family Feud. Ready?

Name a magazine you might find in a doctor’s waiting room. (thinking music plays)

If you answered…Time, Sports Illustrated, Good Housekeeping, People, Reader’s Digest, Parents, or Men’s Health …YOU’RE RIGHT!!

Now the big question…what do any of those have to do with that doctor?

Well, let’s take a look and see.

Time magazine is, and always has has been, filled with stories that were headline news last week. (And now you’re so tired of hearing about it that you certainly don’t want to read about it.)

Sports Illustrated, if you’re lucky, could be the swimsuit edition. (That’ll really vamp up the waiting room.)

People has a least one story of a celebrity divorce and someone either going into or getting out of rehab. (Classy.)

You can count on Good Housekeeping for a nice recipe and a gazillion food advertisements. (As obesity is becoming our number one health concern.)

Maybe Men’s Health will contribute some workout advice, if the pictures of sweaty co-eds don’t sidetrack you.

The truth is all of those magazines are only there for entertainment and to keep patients from realizing that their appointment was 15 minutes ago. Nice diversion, but not a very respectful use of their time. A much better use of their time would be to educate them on a specific health concern, a preventative measure or a new procedure that the doctor is trained to do.

As a wise ENT doctor once said to me, “For every case of sinusitis that sits in my waiting area, there’s someone they know who can wake the dead with their snoring. But they will never know to refer that person to me unless they see that I can successfully treat snoring. That’s why I put it on a big TV screen right in front of them and let Mediplay tell them how many different things I do and how wonderful my practice is.”

Celebrity divorces may sell magazines, but they will not help book more procedures or educate patients. And none of these most popular magazines help differentiate a practice from most run-of-the-mill doctors’ offices – just ask those contestants on Family Feud.