When it comes to your health, it is important that you have all the information you need to take the best care of yourself. Your doctor's job is to provide you with recommendations for managing your health based on their expertise, but it is ultimately your decision whether or not you will carry out those recommendations. As the patient your health outcomes will depend on your actions, so it is important that you understand your health and your doctor's recommendations fully so you can make the best choices for yourself.
The vast majority of doctors care deeply about their patients and make recommendations with their best interests in mind. However, there can often be a disconnect between the doctor and the patient due to lack of time to adequately explain things, different communication styles, different cultural beliefs or values, and conflicting information on the internet or from friends and family members that can create confusion. Unfortunately, there is also a history of paternalism and abuse in medicine, especially of individuals of color or from disadvantaged backgrounds, and this has created a lot of mistrust of medical professionals. Doctors must do their part to overcome this mistrust by partnering with patients, answering their questions honestly and fully, and helping them come to informed decisions that take into account their own personal values and goals.
All patients deserve to have a full understanding of their health conditions and the options for managing them. Here are a few recommendations for questions you can ask your doctor when they recommend a medication, procedure, or treatment plan so that you can make sure you are fully informed and can make the best choice.
What benefits should I expect to see with this treatment?
What are some potential side effects or risks of this treatment?
Will I experience the benefits right away, or will it take a certain period of time before I notice improvements?
What can I expect to happen if I don't take this treatment?
Are there any alternatives to this treatment? If so, why are you recommending this one?
How much will this treatment cost? (Please note this is often dependent on your insurance company, not the doctor, so be sure to ask the insurance company about coverage as well! Asking about the cash price if you don't use insurance can be helpful so that you can compare the two options. Your doctor may refer you to an office manager for this question- in many practices, especially corporate practices, the doctor does not decide on fees for treatments).
Most doctors will be more than happy to address these questions for you. At the end of the day they want to see you get and stay healthy- you are on the same team! If you do not feel that you and your doctor are a good fit you always have the option to find a new one.
At Vida Family Medicine, we take our time with patients to discuss any recommended treatment plans and strive to make sure all questions are answered so that patients can feel confident in their choices. We also offer secure direct messaging so that we can answer any questions that might come up after you leave the office- we know it is hard to think of every question while you are here! It is our mission to develop a strong doctor-patient relationship over time so that we can work together to help you reach your health goals. Our support continues if you need to be referred out to a specialist and we will act as your guide through the complex healthcare system. If you are looking for a new primary care physician- visit our website to learn more about becoming a patient!