The United States health care system is far from being perfect. It’s riddled with policies and profit-based initiatives that the high-quality health care that physicians and patients aim to provide and receive are being muddled.
When we talk about high-quality health care, it all turns out to be relative depending on who you’re asking. Ask a patient and they will talk about having access to treatment and medication without having to worry about being crippled with debt. Ask a physician and other medical providers and workers and they will tell you about the inconveniences and disadvantages of the public and private pay-for-performance scheme. Ask the policymakers and leaders and they will likely define high-quality health care as having the latest technology available to hospitals for procedures and more.
The medical field is no doubt slowly inching its way towards having better and accessible health care. While the biggest bulk of the work is in the hands of those who are capable of greatly shifting the American health care system, the role of physicians in healthcare-building is also crucial.
It’s all about advocacy in action and it starts with the doctor-patient relationship. Seeking changes in your own practice is a way for you to better accommodate your patient’s need for care and expand your practice that will align to your own advocacy towards quality and accessible health care. The great thing about this, it’s all about taking one small step at a time.
So how do you, as a physician, take action through your practices? Here are some good practices to incorporate in your daily work as a healthcare provider:
To err is human, that’s a basic uncontested saying that every person in the world including physicians lives by. However, as physicians and healthcare providers, you can go beyond the oath to do no harm by ensuring the safety of your patient through rigorous and proper practice.
It should be included in your practice habits to help your patient avoid health conditions. May it be helping them avoid hospital-acquired infections, not committing significant medical errors, and more improper practices that might not necessarily fall under medical malpractice.
Avoiding harm should be the core of one’s medical profession. No consequence is too small for committing avoidable mistakes.
Experienced physicians might tend to rely on anecdotes and “in my experience” approach. While it is undoubtedly important in the practice of medicine, physicians should ensure that their patients receive the best medical care possible through the most current scientific evidence available. Scientifically-backed and validated protocols should always emerge on top when it comes to finding the most appropriate and effective care.
The variation of how physicians treat the same medical problem is arguably unwarranted. It has become a practice for patients to seek second or third opinion and while it’s their right to do so, the need for it should be lessened if we’re pushing for quality health care. Variations lead to system-wide underperformance and clinical outcomes that aren’t optimal.
While it may seem obvious, we need a constant reminding that medical practice is far more science than art. The state of the world’s health care has evolved to the point that we no longer have to employ trial and error for every diagnosing process. It’s crucial than every physician should maximize the use of resources available to them to push for an evidence-based care to lessen any misdiagnosing or mistreatment.
It’s a habit of patients to seek for medical care only when something is too uncomfortable or painful to ignore. While this is likely a result of having little access to proper healthcare, physicians should still make it a habit to offer preventative services to their patients.
Your patient might see this as an unnecessary expense to be paid which is why it’s important that you make sure your patient understands the importance of prevention rather than treatment. Walk the extra mile to urge them to take recommended screening tests or receive their vaccinations up to date. Preventive services are always a valuable opportunity to improve your patient’s health and reduce their health expenditures.
In line with pushing the importance of preventive services, physicians should also put importance in addressing the patient’s addictive behaviors, if any.
Eliminating alcohol abuse and smoking addiction would dramatically lower the incidence of diseases especially when it comes to lung and cardiovascular. Engaging in education and positive approaches when it comes to breaking addition should be reinforced.
This also includes cases of overweight and obesity. More than two-thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese. Along with this, physicians should make a healthy lifestyle a vital sign and ensure proper management and counsel their patients on the options available.
Advocating for the betterment of any health care system in the world means taking that advocacy into practice. It’s about dedicating your energy and commitment as a physician to the cause and it all starts with your patients.
An effective advocacy is a practiced advocacy. Knowing how healthcare regulations work is a way for you to determine what is effective and what’s not. It’s also about reaching out to your colleagues and fellow physicians and getting others on board.
Small changes in your practice start a ripple effect on the American healthcare system. While you might think that lone efforts barely count, individual practices eventually lead to collective ones until the standard of quality healthcare is lifted. Until every single patient doesn’t have to worry about their continuous treatments and medication or the financial distraught of a clinic’s visit; until physicians don’t have to double take about which lesser options are less expensive for their patients — the American healthcare system has still a long way to go.