All this talk about "Health 2.0" and the "power of the healthcare consumer" only makes sense if we patients really do have choices. And lots of us still feel that we don't. We're either stuck with whatever our insurance provider dictates, or we don't have the time/money/resources to really drive our own medical treatment.
While the financial aspect remains a painful hurdle, there's lots of help on the way with respect to getting patients the information they need to make informed choices. (One of my favorite resources here are those almost comically simple Humana healthcare videos.) And one of the most important choices we patients make is proactively choosing a doctor — or rather, that's what we should be doing instead of than just sticking with whatever physician happens to be in close proximity or is assigned to you by some health plan. When it comes to managing diabetes, you're not going to get anything out of time spent with a doctor who doesn't "click" for you.
I think Fellow D-blogger Scott Strumello is wise in encouraging us to "fire" our doctor if we don't like him or her — but what happens after that? How do you find someone new who's any better? Or what can you do to make sure you don't have to fire your doctor in the first place? Allison Blass, who works with lots of Health 2.0 providers, tipped me off to an extremely useful resource here: a new free eBook from Vitals.com, a web site for searching and rating doctors.
(Click on the image for the download link.)
I looked it over and am impressed with the amount of useful information in these 29 pages. There are definitions of physician types: Do you know the difference between a Hepatologist and a Hemotologist? Or between a "Concierge Doctor" and a Hospitalist? They suggest ways to evaluate a doctor's credentials: specialty certifications, Senior Doctors vs. "Residents," etc. And they walk you through prioritizing the things that might matter to you most in a doctor-patient relationship: what's the average wait time for an appointment? Do you care about his or her age / ethnicity / religion? What type of "bedside manner" do you prefer?
It's definitely worth 10 minutes to read through this book and give the "Dr. Right" issue some thought. I'm betting that most of us never spent more than 10 or 15 minutes identifying the doctor(s) we now see!
For my part, I was referred to my first endocrinologist by the hospital where I was diagnosed. At the time, I was an emotional basket case, and that doctor turned out to be a big tease. I dreaded going in to see him knowing he was going to try to be funny and "yank my chain" over little things. Definitely not a style that worked for me. I'm on Endo #4 now and very happy. If you haven't shopped around, this online booklet should prove a nice guide to getting started.