Being in good health is a blessing. People who are not in good health can have frequent encounters with a variety of doctors/specialists. And then there are many that are not able to afford consistent good quality health care.
I am lucky to be in relatively good health for a man in his early sixties. Because of that I have (I am thankful for this) limited interaction with my primary care physician – a man I have come to know as much as you can know someone in a yearly 30-minute visit. I like him. Yet I am pretty sure that the moment I walk out of the office, I am out-of-sight and out-of-mind unless I were to contact the doctor myself.
This kind of bothers me because as it happens this week there was an updated recommendation from the FDA that low-dose aspirin was no longer being recommended for people in their 60s and beyond. Since I have been taking low-dose aspirin for a few years I was listening closely.
I am also a healthcare marketer as well as a healthcare consumer, so I am keen to better understand among other things real patient experiences.
So here I am waiting to get some sort of message from my doctor regarding the recommendation. It’s not like they don’t have my email address or other information. I have to fill out the exact same sheet every single time I go to the see the doctor that has me list all the exact same information from my prior visit. That’s maddening in and of itself. But that the doctor’s practice continues to struggle with electronic communication with patients like me is frustrating and unnecessary. I am still waiting to receive what should be a simple email from my doctor noting the change in aspirin recommendation since it pertains to my health and that I need to either a) do nothing until my next visit or b) stop taking low-dose aspirin immediately. Wouldn’t that show that my doctor cares a little bit and even ‘thinks’ about me? Forget for a second that it’s simply the right thing to do for a patient.
It is not the same with all group practices (my doctor is part of a large group that has rolled up various practices in recent years). When I had my Covid-19 vaccines at a nearby hospital, my email was inundated with various things relating to my health in relation to the vaccine and health in general. I was impressed with the regular communication from a provider that for me I might never tap again.
When it comes to EHRs (Electronic Health Records), the concerns about patient privacy are both justified and important. Perhaps it’s because I am in the ‘biz’ of healthcare that I expect more, not less, from healthcare providers when it comes to interacting with patients. There are ways to communicate with your patients that are secure so saying that it’s too complicated to contact patients individually through email or text is just wrong. And unlike the vaccine provider (they were fine and dandy BTW), I would much more welcome relevant communications from my personal doctor. Wouldn’t you?
And before you say, change doctors, keep in mind that I like and respect my doctor when it comes to my health. I am not interested in changing due to substandard communication. I just want it to be better.
Patients should demand more AND they should get more. Agree?