As a doctor I see many patients with different health concerns on a consistent basis. Typically my consultation goes something like this.
First and foremost, I listen to my patient’s complaint. Then I ask questions regarding the complaint. Finally, I offer my diagnosis and recommend a treatment and then the patient leaves my office with a certain amount of satisfaction (usually). However, sometimes that’s not the case and the patient is left without the “best possible” recommendation or treatment.
As a doctor who sees many patients, I find it is always helpful for the patient to come in well prepared for the visit. When a patient has learned the guidelines for their condition prior to their appointment, it gives them the ability to ask more informed questions about their condition, which in turns helps me to work out the right treatment plan for their specific need.
That is why, as a doctor, I appreciate and actually welcome the opportunity to discuss any questions my patients may have concerning something new they many have read about on the internet or heard from a family member or friend.
However, with so much information available on the web these days, both good and bad, it is becoming increasingly difficult for my patients to filter out the credible from the junk that is being placed on the web on a consistent basis. This can present a real challenge when they come to me for help with a health issue.
For instance a patient may have heard about the newest medication for treating an ailment and wish to try it. However, just because a medication is new, doesn’t mean it is always better. Some of the best medicines are the ones that are tried and true. They have been around for such a long time because they work.
Another problem that some patients have is the desire to have more care than is needed simply because the internet lists 20 things to fix a concern when really only 3 steps are required to help the patient get back on the road to recovery. More care is not always the best care. If you want a glass of milk and want to walk to the kitchen from the living room, would you go through the basement, up to the attic, back down the stair and finally to the kitchen? Of course not, you would simply take the shortest route to your destination. That is what I try to do with each of my patients. Sometimes the most direct path is the best way to go in a course of treatment.
So how can you as a patient ensure that you will receive the best care possible during your visit? The first thing is do a little research and take along notes with questions you may have concerning your illness and possible treatments available. When looking at sites regarding your ailment check to see whether the latest treatments are sponsoring the information your studying, if so chances are the objectivity of the site may be in question. If you like what you have read speak up and ask your doctor to compare some of the recent treatments before making his final suggestion. Above all be an active listener, taking notes and asking questions about anything you don’t understand. You are your best advocate when it comes to your health care.