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The Physician – Patient Relationship

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By: Dr. Daniel T. Hall IV
 “Thank you doctor, I really appreciate everything you have done for me. I am feeling much, much better!”
To most physicians, this is as good as it gets when we hear statements like this from our patients. This is what makes the four years of undergraduate school, the four years of medical school, and the minimum three years of residency worth it. This is what makes the hundreds of thousands of dollars accrued in medical school loans worth it. This is why we do what we do and for the most part love what we do! Believe me, it’s not for the money – anyone willing to go $200,000 in debt before they earn their first dollar is a lousy businessman by anyone standards.
Unfortunately, as healthcare reform continues and government mandated implementations are taking effect; I believe the physician-patient relationship is now being pushed to the brink of defeat. As the owner of a private practice, I am constantly faced with the headaches and pitfalls of the healthcare crisis that exist in today’s world of modern medicine.
As hard as I try to completely remove myself from the laborious and painful process of insurance pre-certifications, insurance verifications, insurance procedural coverage, deductibles, and co-pays – it is becoming more and more difficult to simply practice medicine and treat our patients they way the deserve to be treated.
For many years, doctors appointments, office visits/procedures, and surgeries were services provided at very little direct costs to the patient with insurance – and payment was usually made AFTER the treatment was provided. And for the most part, this model proved to be overwhelmingly successful. Patients were happy. Doctors were happy.
Over the past 15 years or so, the paradigm has shifted to the tune of higher co-pays, higher deductibles, insurance claim denials and/or refusal to pay for services rendered. Translation = doctors appointments, office visits/procedures, and surgeries are now services provided at much higher cost to the patient with insurance – and payment is usually made PRIOR to treatment being provided. Patients are less happy. Doctors are less happy.
Through all the inconvenience and expenses that have accumulated due to the current climate in healthcare, at times both sides become frustrated and are looking for someone to blame. So how do we fix this problem?  The answer is trust.
Patients – trust that your doctor is doing everything they can to make you well. Doctors – trust that your patients will be compliant in the treatment plan you have outlined. Patients -trust that your doctor who has spent his/her career dedicated to diagnosing and treating diseases is more knowledgeable than the Wikipedia page entry on your smartphone.
Call me naïve or as they say in Louisiana “green”, I still believe in the good of people. I hope that the physician-patient relationship remains a trusted, sacred bond that can never be disrupted; regardless of the policies that directly effect the relationship that remains out of both the physician and patients control.
Best Regards,
Dr. Daniel T. Hall IV

Source: Louisiana Foot and Ankle Specialists Blog

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