Medical Empowerment

StethoscopeHow do you become an empowered health care consumer?  A recent blog post on the Forbes magazine website, authored by financial planner/doctor Carolyn McClanahan, suggests that the relationship between doctors and patients is entering a third phase of its long-term evolution.  Phase one was paternalistic, where the doctor told the patient what to do and the patient was expected to do it.  With the rise of the Internet, the relationship has become more informational—the doctor provides the patient with a number of choices, and the patient chooses one of them.

The problem with an informational relationship is that most patients aren’t really equipped to relate the choices to their health goals, which means they can be railroaded into inappropriate care.  The new paradigm is a collaborative approach, where the health care provider takes the time to understand the patients’ goals, needs and resources, and then helps them decide the care that is most appropriate for their situation.

It takes two to make this work, which means that you, the patient, will need to more actively participate in your doctors’ visits.  How?  McClanahan recommends that you write out, in advance, your current symptoms, your current medication and some information about your diet.  Write down the questions you would like the doctor to answer during your visit.  Also in advance: if you have complicated issues, ask for a longer appointment.

During the visit, make certain the doctor answers your questions in laymen’s terms rather than medical jargon.  If testing is ordered, ask what the doctor wants to learn from the test, and how the results might change the approach to treatment.  If the doctor cannot provide a clear answer, ask if the test is really necessary.  Ask what you can do to improve the situation—like changing your diet or adding a more rigorous exercise regimen.

Before the visit is over, make sure you know what’s going to happen next, and why.  If the doctor seems hurried or impatient with your questions, or is not able to tell you how you can improve your health circumstances on your own, then ask for a referral to the appropriate nutritionist, physical therapist or a more patient medical practitioner.  If you’re dissatisfied, make sure the doctor and the health care organization understands why—because you won’t get collaborative health care unless you force these organizations to evolve to the next level of doctor-patient relationship.


About Objectively Speaking

Tom Batterman, founder of Vigil Trust & Financial Advocacy and Financial Fiduciaries, LLC is in the business of representing the best financial interests of his clients. Having provided objective, fee-only financial management services for over two decades, he specializes in managing the investment and related financial affairs of individuals and mutual insurance companies who do not have the time, interest or expertise to manage such matters on their own. As an objective, unbiased professional who takes on a fiduciary responsibility to his clients, he guides clients to the financial decisions they would make themselves if they had years of training and experience and the time and expertise to fully research and understand all of their options. Founded in 2010 as an outgrowth of Vigil Trust & Financial Advocacy, Financial Fiduciaries, LLC is a financial management solution for individuals and mutual insurance companies who recognize they do not have the time, interest or expertise to properly attend to their financial matters on their own. While there are many financial “advisors”, most of them have investment products to sell and the “advice” they provide is geared toward getting their clients to engage in a purchase. As one of the rare subset of advisors known as “fiduciary advisors”, Financial Fiduciaries does not sell any investment product so its guidance is not compromised by conflicts of interest which plague ordinary advisors. Prior to his employment in the financial industry in financial advocacy and trust positions, he worked at a private law practice in the Wausau area in the areas of estate planning, tax, retirement planning, corporate organizations and real estate. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the UW-Madison Law School and has during his career held Series 7, 24 and 65 securities licenses. A longtime resident of the Wausau, Wisconsin Area, Tom is active in the community. He enjoys golf, curling, skiing, fishing, traveling and spending time with his family.
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