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Let's Doctor Shop!

Let's Doctor Shop!

This week I read a really great article in the New York Times by Mikkael A. Sekkeres, the director of the Leukemia Program at the Cleveland Clinic. The article was aptly titled “Shopping for a Doctor who ‘fits’”, and it discussed something we’ve seen as a growing trend in our industry.

Now, more than ever, patients are seeking second opinions. They’re seeking third opinions. They’re switching PCP’s. They’re trading doctors like Halloween candy. And the thing is, it’s not necessarily good or bad. It’s a simple reality of the new world of health care that we live in.

In the article, Sekkeres notes that things didn’t always use to be this way. “Decades ago, when physicians worked within a much more paternalistic system, such ‘doctor shopping’ would have been considered inappropriate. Your doctor’s medical opinions were considered authoritative, incontrovertible and often final. Patients who challenged them were labeled ‘difficult’, and worried about developing a reputation that would influence their care, both with their own doctor and with others. In recent years, patients have become more empowered to demand both good care and a good attitude. Given some of the stories I have heard, I can’t say that I blame them.”

It’s not enough anymore to be a qualified doctor with strong opinions. All the skill and education in the world can’t make up for poor bedside manner, for arrogance and aloofness, or for any of the other negative characteristics that several doctors employ. Yes, our patients are there because they need our medical advice, but in most cases they also need much more than that.

They need compassion, they need care. They need strong medical advice coupled with the knowledge that the person giving it truly cares about them and what they’re going through. They need someone who can walk the fine line between too blunt and too gentle. They need someone confident in their diagnosis and treatment plan, but patient enough to listen to and answer their questions. At the end of the day, they need someone whose opinion they can respect and value yet whose personality they can click with.

And why shouldn’t they? If one of our loved ones was ill and seeking medical care, wouldn’t we not only want the same for them, but expect it? Understanding this is absolutely key for each and every doctor out there who regularly interacts with patients, whether they’re a PCP, a neurosurgeon, or a radiation oncology specialist.

Being able to combine specialized knowledge about your medical field with the ability to connect with patients on a somewhat personal level is becoming increasingly important in the medical world of today, in the one where doctor shopping is no longer frowned upon and is instead encouraged. It’s something we believe patients deserve from their doctors, and it’s something each and every one of our doctors strives to embody. We hope that, for our patients, the doctor shopping ends with us. 

If you want to shop around to find the best prices for your next procedure, Save On Medical allows you to find the cheapest prices in your area. It even presents the average cost in your area to show you a comparison. Good luck doctor shopping!

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Stressing Out Over Money Causes Pain?

Do you worry about money? If you do, that’s natural. It turns out that 72% of us feel stressed out financially at some point. However, worrying about money could actually cause more problems according to a recent study.

 

Eileen Chou, of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, found that people who feel financially unstable experience more physical pain than those who feel financially secure. The results were published published in Psychological Science - a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

 

In one study, the team analyzed data from a geographically diverse consumer panel of 33,720 people across the US. The data included analyzing OTC (over the counter) painkillers.

 

The results were the following: compared with households in which at least one adult was employed, the team found that households in which both adults were unemployed spent around 20% more on OTC painkillers in 2008.

 

 The researches then decided to do a laboratory-based study. They asked students to think about entering a stable or unstable job market while placing one hand in a bucket of ice water (yikes!). The pain tolerance was measured by how long participants could keep their hand in the ice water.

It turns out, compared with students who thought about entering a stable job market, those who thought about entering an unstable job market showed reduced pain tolerance; they were unable to keep their hand in the ice water for as long.

 

As you might guess, the people studied who were not financially secure were driven by the feeling they had no control over their lives. They explain that this feeling can trigger psychological processes linked to anxiety, fear and stress leading to physical pain. When you’re in physical pain, your bones hurt and your body will ache. When you’re in physical pain, your bones hurt and your body will ache. You might end up getting injured (if you do, make sure you schedule a MRI with us). Although this might sound extreme, it’s much better to be safe than sorry.

 

This study is important because it further shows the dangers of economic insecurity. In the future, the researchers “hope for short-circuiting the downward spiral initiated by economic insecurity and producing a new, positive cycle of well-being and pain-free experience”. 

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Awareness Drastically Improves Likelihood of Surviving Cancer

A new study was published this week by Birbeck Univeristy’s Dr. Caroline Kamau, who has spent the past several months investigating the link between successful cancer treatment and awareness about the details of the disease among patients.

Dr. Kamau’s study analyzed almost 3,500 patients through data gathered by the National Cancer Patient Experience Survey. The results? “The report reveals that working patients who receive information about their disease, its treatment and its impact on working life and education are almost twice as likely to experience a positive outcome as those who do not.” In simpler terms, awareness about cancer can essentially double survival rates.

For the purpose of this study, a “positive outcome” was defined as “completing treatment with no further signs or symptoms of cancer”. Dr. Kamau’s results from the study were both surprising and enlightening. She determined that the likelihood of a positive outcome was:

1.72 times greater in patients who received information about the impact of cancer on their work life/education

1.99 times greater in patients who received information specifically about their type of cancer

1.90 times greater in patients who received information before a cancer-related operation

Interestingly enough, she also found that patients who received information about side effects were up to 35% less likely to have a positive outcome. Dr. Kamau believes this may be because negative information like this can tend to increase a patient’s stress, uncertainty, and despondence.

The study was later validated by secondary analysis which yielded similar results, finding that the more information patients had about their disease, the better they fared in treatment and recovery. Kamau’s study also showed that in many cases, cancer patients who continued to work while battling their disease were more likely to achieve a positive outcome. She believes that keeping their career life going while battling cancer can be the light at the end of the tunnel for many patients, and that having the huge support system provided by co-workers can be incredibly helpful.

Although no study is ever full-proof, and it’s so difficult to prove that any one thing can help increase success rates in cancer survival, Dr. Kamau seems to be on to something. Awareness is an important element in a patient’s ability to overcome a serious disease like cancer, and the more information patients have about their disease, their treatment options, their symptoms and the various ways to overcome them, the more prepared they’ll be for the long fight ahead of them and the more likely they’ll be to come out ahead.  

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