Why not pick your doctor like you pick your friends?

I think it is reasonable to ask why, on an allergy / medical blog, there is a personal section.  At first it may not seem to make sense.  But it will, I promise.

 

Trust your doctor; trust your allergist
Do you trust your doctor?

First, let me ask YOU a few questions:

First, Think about how your normally choose a doctor.

  • For some of you, you choose based on convenience to a location and hope that the doctor is a good one.
  • Others of you find a doctor you like and just trust that they will steer you in the right direction.
  • You might ask your friends and family and go based on personal referrals.
  • Alternately, you might go where your insurance company recommends and not question it further.
  • Still others of you may search the internet for 5 star ratings and background research until you find a doctor who seems like a good fit.

There are many different ways that you choose the first visit with a doctor.  And all these are reasonable.  But the next step is pretty similar:

  • We give our doctors TRUST based on their degree and a belief that they want the best for us.
  • If the doctor and you connect on some level, if they seem competent and if they create a reasonable plan then you will likely go along with the initial plan.
  • Then, after some time (and often a lot of money) you will either have your questions answered and problems solved indicating you picked a good doctor OR you will see increasing frustrations, the lack of results, or other problems and will stop seeing that doctor and switch to a new one.

Now, this system is improving with online reviews.  But there are some serious problems with this system that I, as a doctor, know about that you may not:

  • I know many doctors who are great business people and have exotic looking offices but who provide TERRIBLE care.
  • I know countless doctors who are very confident in their ability to help you yet I am amazed at their WRONG advice.
  • I know doctors who will be able to solve your problem IF it is an easy one, but as soon as things get complicated they get frustrated and keep trying to do the same thing without changing or admitting they were initially wrong (think of trying to put a square peg in a round hole… and when it doesn’t work getting a different square peg for the same round hole).

 

  • I am amazed at the number of doctors who refer to specialists who are their friends and not necessarily based on your needs as a patient
  • I am also surprised how many doctors refer to their family members (brothers referring to each other, fathers referring to sons, etc) and seem to do this for problems that don’t need referrals to begin with
  • Medical friend and family nepotism is a HUGE problem).

This is what we accept as “normal” for the medical community.

 

Now, think about how you pick your friends

  • Many of us start with friends based on shared interests, similar locations or situations, or other similarities
  • We then spend time getting to know our friends.  Their strengths, their weaknesses, their attributes.
  • As we know our friends, they slowly gain our trust (or lose it) over time.
  • Over time, we build our friends to the point that we can trust them to have our best interests at heart.  And often we rely on our friends advice for a lot of very personal, very complicated problems.

Our friends earn our trust over time, as opposed to just being “given” trust implicitly.

 

Superbowl 50. Go Broncos!
Why not pick your doctor like you pick your friends?

 

So now, I want to put it all together for you and for my vision of this website

First, I enjoy helping people feel better from allergy and asthma problems.  I believe I am a good doctor (you can read my background here or my HealthGrades score here).  And I am always trying to improve my care.

Second, I don’t want you to read my blog and just trust me because I’m an allergist (I won’t guide you wrong… but I think you deserve more than this).  Instead, I want you to also get to know me as a person.

  • I am a husband, a father, a geek, a prior military officer and a strong patient advocate.
  • I have opinions, hobbies, interests and an unreasonable fear of grasshoppers.
  • I am NOT a doctor who wants to be on a pedestal and talk down to you as I decree your care.
  • I am a person, same as you, but I happen to have a skill set toward treating allergies and asthma.  I am the same you and as all your friends with their respective skill sets (such as a specialist in accounting, in education, in sprinkler repair, in jewelry making, etc).

So, I think that adding a personal section helps you to know me, as a person, and not just as a provider of medical care.

 

But what if we disagree?

It is possible… no, LIKELY, that given enough time I will disagree with you about something on a personal level.

AND THAT’S OK.

I have a lot of friends who are on all sides of the political spectrum, friends who are on different sides of economic beliefs and I even have a few friends who, somehow, think that Superman could beat up Batman (seriously?!  Batman beats everyone… given enough time to prepare.)

But we are still friends.

 

So let’s make some rules… and understandings… right now that will be a good guidance for this entire blog:

  1. It is OK to disagree.
  2. It is OK to have fun discussions on the blog or over email.
  3. Lets always agree that, regardless of any disagreements, you will ALWAYS get good, correct, accurate and well-intentioned allergy and asthma advice from me.

 

Get to know me as a person and also as a medical provider.  You will ALWAYS get good, correct, accurate and well intentioned allergy and asthma advice and might also find a good internet friend.

 

Comments

    • Thanks Robin. I hope it will help people. So if you know anyone with allergies or asthma, send them my way. I’ll make sure to help them out!

  1. I have to deal with intense seasonal allergies, so getting a good doctor that I can trust is really important to me. I agree that it’s much more important to find someone that will give you the best care than to find someone that you agree with. Political opinions just don’t have a real influence on health care in the end, and it really shouldn’t have an influence on developing a good relationship with another human being.

    • I agree with you. There is nothing more important than a good relationship… which takes time to build. It’s definitely a difficult time right now with the consolidation of heathcare among larger systems. But I have to believe that if you always put your patient first then the rest will work itself out.

  2. I agree that it is important to really know who you choose as a doctor. After all, your health is incredibly important. The last thing you want to do is cause issues with your body because you made a poor choice with your doctor. Do you have any other tips about hiring someone to take care of you?

  3. I agree that it is important to know your doctor personally to some degree. General practice doctors who add a personal touch when they are providing care probably would receive less complaints because they provide the prospective that they are human just like their patients are. Many doctors could be concerned about abandoning all professionalism if they engage too much with their patients, but it could be a good idea to assure them that it will increase the level of trust that their patients have with them.

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