Overcoming Health Care Uncertainty Part II: Interactions with Providers

It must have been comforting for the generations of patients who used the expression “under a doctor’s care.” Certainly, feelings of security, clarity, and definitiveness would have been present; however, there are two important implications emerging from this decades-old expression worthy of modern scrutiny. First, that the relationship between a provider and a patient is hierarchical, with the patient clearly “under” the caregiver. The other is that—sort of like being under one’s wing—as a patient you can remain passive and someone else will ensure that it is all going to end with a positive result. At OnPulse, we understand that both ideas are obsolete, and we are here to present and facilitate a new care model.

Today’s health care system is filled with choices, mobility, and flexibility, which of course can be positives. In order to thrive in this environment and receive top-notch care, the individual can no longer just trust the system; instead, the patient needs to become informed and a full participant in the process. This movement from passive to active patient is best achieved by seeking partners in the health care process (which can seem like a maze) who are able to provide firm explanations regarding individual health care benefits, treatment options, and social factors. That is where we come in.

In speaking to our clients, we definitely are not getting the feeling that their choices and options are clear. Quite the contrary, they often tell us that they are confused and uncertain when making health care decisions. We understand, as we have seen time and time again how uncertainty has driven over-utilization of health care services, and by extension, driven up waste and overall costs.

We use these opportunities for interaction to provide counsel to clients regarding how to deal with health care uncertainty. In our previous blog post we provided specific action items about how patients can best interact with their loved ones; in this piece, we hope to provide advice about how to best partner with your provider.

To manage uncertainty and alleviate discomfort, we at OnPulse suggest the following actions for our clients:

  1. Achieve understanding, by inviting your provider to discuss all possible options with you. In past generations maybe a doctor would tell a patient in absolute terms what would occur next, but today, patients need to make a decision only after the provider shares perspectives from medical literature, colleagues, and clinical experiences. Only after you understand the risks and rewards of each scenario can you begin to see into the future.

  2. Become individualized, by explaining personal concerns to your provider (and if for whatever reason this is not possible, you need to seek another provider; we can help). Never compromise because nobody cares more about your life and dreams than you do, so take the time to research, pose questions, and explain yourself to a provider who is willing to listen.

  3. Obtain extension, by ensuring the health care does not end as you walk out the door. Ask your providers for timelines of tests, procedures, and follow-ups heading into the future, and how to best contact them.

OnPulse urges you: Do not go without a plan and do not go it alone. We partner with our clients to empower smart health care decisions and to remove overall health care uncertainty. If you want to achieve understanding, become individualized, and obtain maximum extension with your providers -- we can help. Please contact us today to learn more!