I’ve shared with you the importance of sharing clear, concise information with your provider so you can get the health care you need.  Using the Appointment Preparation Worksheet is an easy way to do this.

Here’s my formula for making informed choices about your health care:

Clear Concise Information + a Competent Provider + Understanding What’s Being Advised = You Making The Choice That’s Right For You.

A key component of my Patient Power Manifesto is that I will only deal with competent providers.

Today, we’re going to talk about how to be sure you’ve got the right provider for you.

Here are some mindful questions that I use when I’m evaluating my providers.  I prefer mindful questions over absolute criteria as finding the right provider is a work in progress. It’s a good idea to evaluate this question regularly to make sure your healthcare needs are being met:

  • Does your provider know that your illness exists and is real? There are many providers who may not “believe” in fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, mononeucleosis, pms, hormonal imbalances and repetitive stress injury, for example.  That means they can’t help you because they don’t believe in the illness.
  • Is your provider listening to you? If they aren’t willing to listen to you carefully, they aren’t the right provider for you.
  • Is your provider willing to spend the time that’s necessary to do a physical examination? In some cases (i.e. high cholesterol) a physical examination may not be necessary.  But, in many cases where the issue has a physical component to it (i.e. repetitive stress injury, back pain, fibromyalgia) a physical exam is mandatory.
  • Is your provider willing to share what he observes and explain how they’ve come to their conclusions? This is an often overlooked point by some providers as they simply skip on to the treatment plan without explaining how they’ve reached their conclusion about what’s in your best interest.  A good provider will share what they observe and explain how they reached their conclusions in a way that you can understand.
  • Is your provider willing to  answer your questions and give you instructions about what to do next? We’ll discuss this in greater depth in the next blog post but it’s important that you understand what their recommendations are before you leave the office.

What’s your version of a good healthcare provider?

3 Responses to “How To Know If You’ve Got The Right Provider When You’re Coping with Mental or Physical Pain?”

  1. Teresa Says:

    It was interesting to come upon this website while I am desperately trying to find a primary health care doctor. The one I am seeing now is completely inadequate and really does not hear anything I say. he actually read to me the “standards for pain maagement for anal fissure” when it was discovered that I had one and was in constant pain. I asked for narcotics and he read this ridiculous “standard of care”. As if every patient is the same. Upon seeing a specialist, he prescirbed narcotics until I had sugery. This is just one example of how he treats me like I am patient #66752 and not a real person with unique lifestye and physicality.

    I read the Patinet Power Mainifesto but how do I put it in place? I can’t go from Dr to Dr to Dr interviewing them. One of the unique issues I have is very little time. Even ater I “interviewed” the Dr I have now, he reverted to treating me as he would any patient, not unique. I tend to think Dr’s forget b/c they are treating so many people and they don’t write down things in the chart except numbers and prescriptions.

    How can one use the patient power manifesto in a practical way?

  2. Char Says:

    Hi Teresa:

    First, I am sorry and empathize that you are having this experience with your doctor. And you are raising an excellent question. How can I get my doctor to treat me like a person with a unique lifestyle and physicality when he isn’t hearing what I’m telling him? I hear your frustration as you interviewed this doctor, don’t have a lot of time to go from Dr. to Dr. interviewing them and you need their help.

    It is so very hard to be in your position – and, by the way, I have myself been in this position more times than I’d like to admit. There is no magic answer unfortunately but here are some suggestions for you.

    1. Do your part by preparing the Appointment Preparation worksheet being as specific as possible about what your symptoms are, when they started, what makes them better and what makes them worse. Also, make clear requests asking for exactly what you need.

    2. Verify that you understand what their recommendations are so you can decide whether they are a good fit for you.

    3. If their recommendations are not a good fit, tell them exactly why they aren’t and repeat your request concisely.

    You may have already done this more than once. Each new appointment is an opportunity to come back differently as a patient and be clearer about what’s going on and what you need so you may want to try one more time. Or not.

    As a patient, it is up to us to do our part. Our part is to communicate clearly, find someone competent to help us, and make the right decision that reflects our unique needs. I have found that there is no doctor that fills my needs even 80% of the time but there are essential components to the relationship that must exist in order for me to get my needs met. Good communication at least 80% of the time is my standard.

    I have had misunderstandings with my own doctor where I’ve felt my needs weren’t met. Some of those I am able to straighten out at the time. Othertimes, when I’ve felt particularly misunderstood, I’ve written a confidential letter to the doctor by hand. Though these notes often go unacknowledged, I notice that the next appointment goes much smoother.

    I do my best to claim “my side of the street” by sharing what I may have said or done to precipitate the issue. For example, perhaps I was unclear about my request for help or didn’t listen carefully. I’ll own that initially (if that’s the case) and then share my concern. I have done this more than once over many issues, clarified my symptoms and needs the next time and our relationship has improved.

    This may be an option too. In your case, if you choose to write a note to your doctor, you may also wish to remind him/her of what drew you to them when you interviewed them and why you’re disappointed (putting it mildly!) now. As unlikely as it may seem, you doctor may be unaware of his upsetting behavior and appreciate the opportunity to change his/her approach.

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