Friday, February 17, 2012
How do you choose your health care practitioners? Many people here in Washington DC want "the best." They read the Washingtonian Magazine's list of 100 best internists (for instance), choose from that list. Others are restricted by their insurance companies and must choose from a list of those affiliated with the insurance company. Even if they don't like any of those doctors, they must choose one from the list. What a scam!
Accolades are great, but if you ask me, rapport is far more important in terms of creating a productive relationship. People say, "My orthopedist is a jerk, but he's the best." Then they shrug their shoulders. I'm talking about people who are coming to see me because they're in pain either prior to or following orthopedic surgery. I know that expertise is crucial, but it shouldn't be the bottom line. I wish it wasn't the bottom line.
The best health care practitioner is the one who honestly cares about your health, no matter his or her credentials. Of course in order for your doctor to care, they have to actually know who you are, be in relationship with you. That situation is very rare. I know that the era of the doctor who paid families visits at home, who was the family doctor from childhood to adulthood, who delivered all the children, that era is done now. How sad. Those guys had context to work with when diagnosing a problem. Relationships maintained over a long period of time deepen, including those with health care practitioners.
One of the millions of problems with the health care industry in the U.S. (and it IS an industry) is that when you go see the doctor, there are many ways in which both of you must start from scratch, a process that takes time and costs a bundle. No matter what anyone says, a list of conditions you've suffered in the past is no more than an arrow pointing in the direction of your history, temperament, habit and lifestyle, all of which have a profound impact on health and how best to treat illness. The doctor has to mostly guess what's wrong, and will have no idea what kind of treatment would work best for you. It's no wonder so many people suffer through a million heinous medical tests, to "rule out" various possibilities. What that means is the doctor can't be sure of anything since he or she doesn't know jack about you. Maybe they know your name, that's about it.
Even if I don't truly love every one of my health care practitioners, I have tremendous respect for them. They are curious about my condition. When I describe my symptoms, you can see little lightbulbs flashing above their heads. They are engaged and invested in the best possible course of action. None of my doctors are glazed over automatons who see a patient every seven minutes. No thank you! That is not a healer, that is no better than Web M.D. Stay away from both, please!
Honestly I didn't mean for this to be a rant, but it turned into one. Oops. Be well, no matter how you choose your doctors. You know best, you're in charge! Shalom.