One of the largest problems with the American healthcare system is that there is a largest knowledge gap between patients and providers resulting in people not truly knowing if they are in the best health they could be or if there are better options out there. Since the healthcare system operates largely as a pay-for-service type model and people undergo operations at the recommendation of licensed practitioners, the only real basis for quality is price or friendly recommendations.
However, judging medical care on price is not only inefficient at picking out the best and worst doctors but also makes people either less likely to choose “quality” options or more likely to fall into debt from medical expenses. Relying on friends and family for recommendation just does not offer the best assortment of data to compare doctors, particularly if you are in need of a niche specialist.
So, what are the ways you can check if your medical care is the best potential service available to you and that doctors are truly solving and preventing problems for you? After seeking the recommendations of a number of healthcare professionals in varying backgrounds, these are the top means of ensuring you receive the highest quality medical care possible.
- Be informed
Perhaps the most important thing to understand about doctors is that not only do they know much less about you, your conditions, and your preferences than you, but that they also either implicitly or explicitly allow their preferences to influence their recommendations for you. In order to counter this, it is your responsibility to be as knowledgeable about the areas of medicine pertaining to you as you can.
While this does not mean, you should go straight to WebMD and diagnose yourself, it does mean that reading up on various symptoms you have, potential predispositions, diseases and conditions ailing you, and all of the available options for your consideration. Furthermore, doctors try to stay up-to-date on medical research and available knowledge but do not always do the best job of knowing everything, so an easy way for you to keep a check on your doctor and help them help you is to read up on academic findings that are pertinent to you.
Once you have equipped yourself with the most knowledge you can, consulting your medical professional and communicating what you know, what your thoughts are on the issues, and what courses of actions you are currently considering will give you ample room to begin a discussion. At the end of the day they are the professional for a reason and as long as they are aware of the most cutting edge research and what your medical ailments and preferences are they are the one most able to treat you.
- Talk to many professionals
Many people are aware of the benefits of obtaining a second opinion for their medical treatment, but too frequently only consider this when major decisions need to be made. Often this is used to find justification for the “right” choice on the important topic, but is not used as a means of expanding an understanding of personal wellbeing.
If a healthcare professional is saying that medication rather than homeopathic treatment is the way to go with treating a particular problem for you, instead of searching for someone to tell you want you want to hear, try to continually talk to more and more professionals of various backgrounds to gain a more nuanced understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of the two or more options. After all nothing is every completely black-and-white and relying on any one person’s reasoning makes you liable to their personal preferences and knowledge set.
Furthermore, when searching for people to talk to, never forget to talk to your nurses, pharmacists, and relating specialists as they can offer intensive backgrounds on most of the issues you are facing, as well as general wellness advice. So, the next time you give your vital signs to a nurse or pick-up your prescription at the pharmacy, perhaps start to ask some questions about whether symptoms are normal, what side effects to expect, and what the best ways to improve your general health are.
Finally, in addition to consulting multiple healthcare professionals, consult your family and friends for updates on your personal health. Aside from yourself, no knows you better than those you live and spend time with and often they know things about you that you did not notice. Bringing a family member to the doctor can help check yourself as you are conveying information and in turn provide your doctor more and better information on your overall state and what issues you need taken care of.
- Challenge your insurance
One of the most annoying things to have to deal with is not being able to get the medical care you want simply because a provider or treatment is not covered by your plan. What many people do not understand is that with enough persistence health insurance companies can expand networks and help accommodate their members’ needs.
If you fall into the group of people who has a favorite doctor they do not want to leave or needs a certain cutting-edge drug not yet included in your plan, get on the phone and be willing to fight for and explain why it is important for boosting your health and wellness. Much of the research and discussions you have about the treatment option beforehand with your doctor will be useful in explaining the nuanced decisions you thought through before deciding this was the best course of action.
Healthcare is a tricky thing because you never know when your care was bad until it becomes a major problem. Since there is no great recommendation system or rating metric for good or bad doctors, it can be hard to understand whether you are getting the care you need, but if you can arm yourself with the most knowledge possible and talk to as many professionals as possible you will be more likely to find any missteps and know you are receiving only the highest quality care.