Saturday, January 05, 2008

Getting what you need from your doctor

Getting what you need from your doctor: "The effective patient understands all this, and nurtures her relationship with her doctor accordingly. She tailors the relationship in such a way that, when the chips are down, she is likely to be one of those her doctor will go to the wall for. To be such an effective patient, consider following these three general strategies:

Strategy 1 - Be empathetic. Show that you understand the constraints under which your doctor is laboring, and adjust your expectations accordingly. Don't be too demanding, especially regarding the small stuff. Show that you respect your doctor's skills, and that having his skills working for you is worth a few minor inconveniences. After all, you make clear, you know how hard it is to be a good doctor these days, and you're thankful he's there for you despite everything."

Strategy 2 - Align your interests with those of your doctor. Remember: you and your doctor are in this together. He feels your pain, and you feel his. You both want the same things. You both want the patient (you) to get good health care; and you both want the doctor's practice - and professional integrity - to thrive. So while you fully expect to get the care you need from your doctor, you will help him to deliver that care as efficiently and as cheaply as possible.

You will not bother him needlessly, or thoughtlessly. You will make the most efficient use of your time with him. You will learn how his office operates, and cooperate with his office staff in minimizing interruptions and special requests. (For instance, inquire as to the best time to call the office with questions, or to speak with the doctor.) The main idea is: you are interested in making the doctor's job as easy for him as possible, while still having your own vital needs served.

Strategy 3 - Become engaged in your own good health. Nothing makes doctors crazier than patients who completely neglect their own health, then expect their doctors to pull out all the stops for them when they get into medical difficulties. The fact is, your doctor simply cannot afford to vigorously advocate for every problem for every patient. This being the case, which patient is your doctor more likely to fight for when they get sick - the obese smoker who has made no visible effort to take care of himself, or the diabetic who has carefully tried to follow her difficult diet and drug regimens?

Maybe it isn't fair, but it's nonetheless true. If a doctor is considering stepping out of line and jeopardizing his own security to fight for his patient's best outcome, you can be sure he's more likely to reserve that action for a patient who's fighting right at his side for the very same thing."

This is great advice !

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