When my wife, Stacy, was pregnant with our first daughter, Hannah, in 1999, I remember researching and evaluating OB/GYNs. Obviously, choosing the right person or practice to take care of my wife during her pregnancy was a major decision for us.
We asked a lot of questions. We wanted to know what the approach and thought process would be. We wanted to know what role we would have in making decisions about our child’s health.
There’s nothing wrong with evaluating healthcare providers in this manner.
When you go shopping for food at the grocery store, you’re a consumer. When you go shopping for a car at an auto dealership, you’re a consumer.
When you choose healthcare professionals, it’s even more important to be a consumer.
We should make every effort to obtain the best possible care so we can feel well and function well, barring an unexpected tragedy. Every individual deserves access to healthcare professionals who have the knowledge, skills, tools and approach to serve us in the best capacity possible.
In order to find those kinds of professionals, we have to be healthcare consumers. We have to know what questions to ask, and we have to be prepared before we go to the doctor’s office.
Being prepared does not mean printing hundreds of pages from WebMD, walking into your doctor’s office, and expecting the doctor to go through all of this data. Being prepared means having a sense of what’s ailing you and digging deeper to find the root cause of your problem.
You need to take a self-assessment by asking yourself the following questions and writing down the answers.
- Do you feel your health has gotten worse during the last two years?
- Have you gained or lost more than 10 percent of your body weight, intentionally or unintentionally, during the last five years?
- Do you have trouble going to sleep or staying asleep?
- Does pain in your joints or muscles limit your physical activity or mobility?
- Are you commonly fatigued?
- Do you feel anxious or depressed?
- Do you occasionally have episodes of poor concentration, confusion or memory loss?
- Is there ringing in your ear?
- Do you feel like you’re losing your strength?
- Do you take prescription medication? If so, do you take more than two?
- Do you take over-the-counter medication such as anti-inflammatories, antacids, analgesics or sleep remedies?
- Do you suffer from allergies?
- Do you commonly suffer from shortness of breath or feel winded?
- Do you feel as though you’ve lost muscle mass during the last few years?
- Have you been told that you have elevated blood pressure, elevated cholesterol or elevated blood sugar?
- Do you have frequent constipation or diarrhea?
- Do you have discomfort in your belly?
- Do you seem to have a tendency to get sick with colds, flus or other ailments?
If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, bring that information to the doctor. This will help you become a better healthcare consumer.
Typically, when you go to the doctor with a sinus infection, you get an antibiotic. Doctors tend to treat the symptom in front of them. They don’t ask about your gut, blood pressure, labored breathing or possible allergies.
Being a better healthcare consumer means finding doctors who treat the entire individual. If you feel your doctor hasn’t been thorough or given you enough time and attention, you need to seriously consider shopping for a new doctor.
I highly recommend going to FunctionalMedicine.org to search for a functional medicine doctor who thinks multi-dimensionally, not single-dimensionally.
We all have a list of professionals in our lives – mechanics, plumbers, hair stylists, handymen. We chose them over others because we trust them to do their jobs correctly and thoroughly.
Do your self-assessment and be a healthcare consumer when you shop for doctors. Remember, you have the right to evaluate doctors just as you would any other professional. Make sure you’re confident that your doctor will provide you with the time, attention and comprehensive care you deserve.
Dr. James Proodian is an accomplished chiropractic physician and health educator who founded Proodian Healthcare Family of Companies to help people feel better, function better, and live longer. His expertise for the past two decades has been in physical rehabilitation, and he has successfully established himself as a spinal specialist. In his practice, he advocates the science of functional medicine, which takes an integrative approach to treating patients by addressing their physical, nutritional, and psychological needs. Alarmed by the escalation of complex, chronic illness in our country, Dr. Proodian has been speaking to companies and organizations through his “Wellness at Work” program since 1994, motivating thousands of people to make positive lifestyle choices and lead healthier, more productive lives. He can be heard weekly on his radio program, “Proodian Healthcare By Design,” on Tandem Radio.