How To Pick a Doctor

by Dr. Harlan Sparer, Tempe Chiropractor

You walk into a doctor’s office. After waiting, you tell your story to the doctor. The doctor reaches for his labeling device, punches out a label and tapes it to your forehead. The doctor then finds his cookbook, turns to the page with the label on it and applies the recipe.

This scenario is repeated daily in health care offices throughout the world, both allopathic and holistic, in countries with national insurance and personal out of pocket payers. It is the core of why health care is in crisis today, despite ever advancing technology. It is a crisis with its basis on the intentions brought to the meeting.

The first issue in this crisis is the part the patient plays in this. If you practice total subservience and follow directions without researching and asking good questions, you are not taking responsibility for your health. Blindly trusting any provider is generally not a good strategy.

The second cause of this crisis is the responsibility of the provider to educate themselves continually, listen to the patient, ask pertinent questions, observe with all of their senses, and think out of the box when necessary. Providers often paint themselves into a corner by limiting the amount of time they will spend with a patient. This is typically caused by high overhead as well as the demands of bean counters that are unconcerned about your well being.

The third cause is the health care apparatus that thrives on sickness. This is composed of insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, attorneys, lobbyists, government, and professional associations. It is in their best interest financially to make a profit off of sickness. Maximizing profits, or greed, are at the core of why the system we have is spiraling inertially into financial difficulties and why our life expectancy is now 20th in the world.

The solution is to find someone without the labeling device and cookbook that is well read and is really listening. Here are some things to look for.

Low Overhead: If the doctor has a fancy office with a large staff and lots of square footage that isn’t really functional, somebody will be paying for it, most likely you.

  1. Warmth: How do the office, personnel, and doctor “feel” to you? Do they care, or are you just part of an assembly line?
  2. Forms: After you fill out the extensive questions and forms, does it appear that anyone has read them when they are speaking to you? This is especially important as far as the doctor is concerned.
  3. Interaction: Is the doctor really listening to you? Are their questions pertinent to what you are saying?
  4. Observation: Is the doctor visually inspecting the problem? Are they touching the affected area? Are they just looking and touching the problem or are they looking and touching at other pertinent areas or even areas you believe are unrelated? The more observation and touching done, the more thorough your exam is.
  5. Detective work and True Cause: Is the doctor aiming to alleviate symptoms or is their goal to eliminate cause. Do they ask pertinent questions about your history to elicit etiology (cause)?
  6. Selling Stuff: How many ancillary or peripheral items are being sold to you? Is there an extended treatment plan that seems to extend too long? Is your out of pocket expense on the first visit out of bounds?
  7. Testing: Are the tests requested justifiable and necessary to the diagnosis? Will the test results alter the treatment in any way?
  8. Claims: Is the doctor making claims that are unreasonable or making guarantees? Have they discussed the risks and benefits of their treatment?

10)  Attitude or Altitude: Is the doctor talking down to you? Are they maternalistic or paternalistic? Is the doctor translating terminology to lay terms? Are they in a hurry or preoccupied?

11)  High Cost: Are they selling an expensive and extensive treatment plan? If treatment will involve expense, time investment, and recuperation, make sure to get three separate opinions, even if you have to pay out of pocket.

12)  Insurance: Even if you have insurance, letting the insurance company’s approval dictate your provider and treatment may not have sparkling results.

13)  Is my Provider Wholistic: Are they considering the whole body as an integrated series of systems as they diagnose and treat? Are they considering the mind, body, and spirit?

Our bodies are truly sacred places and deserve caring and well thought out diagnosis and treatment. We need to consciously take care of them by being thorough about how we select our health care providers, as well as being thorough in the treatment we plan with them. We only get one, and replacement parts are expensive when available, and usually of inferior quality.

How To Pick a Doctor