If you pay money to a business for a product or service, and that product or service doesn’t meet your expectations, or you’re not happy with the experience, you move on. You don’t have to tolerate incompetence, poor service or poor results because there are always other options.
Did the dry cleaner shrink your clothes beyond recognition? Did the airline lose your luggage? Did the contractor install your windows incorrectly? Did the financial planner give you bad advice that caused you to lose thousands of dollars?
You fire them. At the very least, you explore other options.
Why don’t we hold doctors to the same standards?
If you have lousy experiences with any kind of doctor or healthcare provider, why would you tolerate it? If you sit in the waiting room for an hour but spend five minutes with the doctor, support staff is rude and lacks compassion, or your condition isn’t improving, don’t you deserve better?
The simple answer is, yes, you deserve better. So don’t be afraid to fire your doctor.
In many cases, I think providers have a culture in which the patient is perceived to be desperate and will never make a change. Therefore, the provider can do whatever they want.
Unfortunately, that’s also how most people approach their relationships with healthcare providers. People feel like they’re at the mercy of the doctor. Deal with any inconvenience or poor service, accept any diagnosis, and follow any treatment plan without objection.
Long before I was a healthcare provider, I was a healthcare consumer, which is why I take the opposite approach. I tell my patients all the time that if their needs aren’t satisfied and goals aren’t achieved, we both have a job to do. My job is to help them find a different provider who can deliver their desired outcome. Their job is to fire me.
Just like any other industry, healthcare should be judged based on the outcomes they deliver. And just like any other industry, we need to shop around for the best solutions and look for referrals from people we know and trust.
To be clear, you can’t flip a switch and be healthy. Just like there is no magic pill for every ill, you shouldn’t expect instant gratification. Health is complicated. Achieving optimal health can take time. It’s important to build a relationship with your doctor based on realistic expectations, which will help you determine if and when it’s time to make a change.
Finding the right healthcare provider begins with understanding your health insurance coverage, and not allowing yourself to be limited by that coverage. In other words, the insurance carrier typically provides you with a list of in-network and out-of-network doctors. People typically don’t even look at the out-of-network doctors, but for certain types of services, you have to go out-of-network.
Spend extra time learning, understanding and comparing your options, both in-network and out-of-network, because the types of providers and services, and the quality of care delivered, can be very different.
After taking the time to understand your options, you need to shop around for the right healthcare provider instead of simply choosing a name from a list. Beyond insurance coverage, certain qualities and capabilities might be more important to you than someone else.
Everyone should be a healthcare consumer. Just like we get three proposals from contractors and meet with multiple financial planners before making a decision, you have every right to evaluate and choose your healthcare provider.
Again, once you’ve made your choice, there’s no rule that prevents you from making a change if you’re not satisfied. If you’re not getting any better or you don’t like the way you’re being treated – by the doctor or by support staff – it’s time to move on.
Don’t be afraid to fire your doctor.