Mechanics, dry cleaners, hair stylists, and plumbers are among the many service providers in our lives. As their customers, we have certain legitimate expectations, and as contractors, they should earn our business and meet our expectations.
When I get my hair cut, it's simple: do a good job or I'm not coming back. If the dry cleaners ruins my shirt, I’m not paying (and probably not coming back).
So why is it that when we walk into a doctor's office, we suddenly abandon all expectations as consumers? Doctors provide a service like any other business, yet we exempt them from scrutiny and put up with behaviors that would get any other service provider canned.
It's time to end that nonsense. Here are four potential deal breakers that should make you rethink your relationship with your primary health provider and either demand better service or dump that doctor and find a new one.
Conflict of Interest
Shocker: doctors do not always put your interests first. They are, after all, running a business.
In 2002 oncologists who administered chemotherapeutic drugs in their office or clinic were scandalized when word leaked of the so-called ‘chemotherapy concession’: Oncologists bought chemo drugs direct from the manufacturer and then charged their patients several times the wholesale cost. Often, it accounted for two-thirds of an oncologist's total income (average annual income: $253,000).
Can a doctor’s bottom line really affect which treatments they prescribe? It sure can. Medicare reimbursement policies can have a massive impact on what your doctor recommends. In 2010 two papers rocked the prostate cancer world, showing that when reimbursement amounts to doctors for certain treatments were cut, doctors prescribed them less often.
I fired my last doctor after just one visit. She recommended I take a specific supplement, and when I stopped at the reception desk to schedule my next appointment-- wouldn't you know it-- her office sold that very supplement.
Your doctor’s office should not double as a pharmacy. Their primary treatment recommendations to you should be the extent of the initial service they provide. Anything more threatens to muddy the message and inches them ever closer to abandoning ethics for profit.
Make Yourself At Home
To you, your doctor is your doctor. But he or she is also an employer, hiring nurse practitioners, office managers and receptionists. We must judge doctors by the company they keep: they are our health care team, and the actual execution of our care often falls to them.
Ross is a freelance journalist and writer specializing in medical topics and men's lifestyle. His work appears in numerous online and print publications, including AskMen, Forbes, AOL, and Fox News. He is the editor of several published quotation collections, and in addition to work as a cancer care advocate, he plays ice hockey and blogs for two pro hockey web sites.