How You Can Get Better Medical Care – Part IIby JC, MD | September 24, 2007
In my last post, I talked about the motivations behind the way many physicians practice medicine and the importance as a patient to understand the economic dynamics behind your doctor’s practice. In essence, your physician needs to make a living while helping people get better. He really is not going to go above and beyond his call of duty unless he is either emotionally, intellectually, or financially compelled to do so.
As a patient, you cannot control whether he is intellectually or financially compelled to help you. You can’t control what disease or problem you are having. You could try and find a doctor who specializes in your problem, but that might be difficult if you don’t have a complex problem. You could try and find a doctor who makes most of his living on fixing your problem, but that might be difficult as well unless you have some inside connections or lots of patient feedback to know what the doctor’s bread and butter practice is all about.
The one thing that you can control is getting your physician to be emotionally compelled to help you. This may come in the form of that special connection you have to him. Or perhaps because you have a mutual friend or colleague. Or perhaps because you brought him a gift and he remembers you as the patient who brings gifts.
Whatever your method, I do recommend that patients try and do something to curry favor with their physician. If you are in a position of influence, don’t be shy to let your doctor know that you can refer other patients to him.
There are obvious ethical boundaries that must not be crossed. But the basic concept here is that your doctor is pressed for time and a lot of people are demanding his time and energy. You as a patient must compete to a certain extent to get his best effort.
I can confidently say that within the medical community, if you are someone important or a “VIP” you will get better care and attention that the homeless guy off the street. Likewise, a “VIP” will get better care than the average well-intentioned patient. I don’t agree with this personally, but this is how the system works. If you want to get your needs met, then you need to play the game to a certain extent.
Please keep in mind that these thoughts are really meant for the person who is unhappy with his physician. If you are happy with your doctor and your care, then don’t change a thing.
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