Dr. Crystal Frazee, PT, CHWC, C-IAY
Medical providers are caring, capable professionals often stifled by a strained system that’s guided by reimbursement
and productivity. It’s critical you understand the appropriate role medical providers
play on your health team and also the barriers inherent in the system that prevent you from receiving the absolute best care possible.
You are the CEO if your health and should be the person directing your care and making the decisions. You deserve to feel heard, respected and validated. Your symptoms and goals are unique to you and should be integrated into an overall healing plan.
Gender Disparity in Healthcare
There are studies suggesting that pain is under-treated in women through all branches of medicine by both male and female medical providers. This leads to a phenomenon called the “never catch up syndrome” where women may receive delayed testing and treatment compared to a similar male, and will therefore be susceptible to a lesser outcome and
quality of life.
The first step is to be aware of the unconscious and systemic biases impacting women. Stay curious about how it could be present in your specific interactions with your medical team. Know that you have an active role to play and that you can step into your rightful role as CEO of your own health care.
See Yourself As The Authority
No one knows your body better than you – even your doctor. You work with the doctors and specialists who guide you to understand what is going on and give you options, but you are the final decision maker. Have a vision for your desired outcome before you visit the doctor; if you are not clear about what you want, it’s more likely you will ultimately feel dissatisfied. When the doctor walks into the room, stand up so you are at eye level.
Your body language and positioning will communicate that you are an equal partner in making the plan.
If you were the CEO of a business you would
dress accordingly, be on time and sit at the head of
the table. Strive to embody those qualities as a
Build a Team You Trust
Remember that your healthcare providers are working for you. You may be limited in who you can see due to health insurance restrictions, but there are still options. Get second opinions and meet various providers until you “click” with someone. You deserve to feel that you have a personal relationship with a provider who shares your goals.
Be Prepared and Present
Have all of your questions written down and rehearse what you want to say; ending a long-awaited appointment without asking everything you needed to is disappointing and could lead to unnecessary appointments. Take a few grounding breaths in
the waiting room or before you start talking to
Let your provider know you have specific questions to cover during your time. Most importantly only consent to that which you are comfortable. During an appointment, it’s OK to say, “Excuse me, I need a moment to collect my thoughts,” or “I don’t feel like you are hearing what I’m saying.” Listen to your gut and share your thoughts during your appointment.
In the presence of an expert, it can be challenging to speak up, but you and your vision for your health are worth it. Ultimately, your provider wants to help; assist them in understanding your experience and work together to navigate your relationship.
Paint a full mental picture by asking powerful questions. Always ask what to expect if you follow through with the recommendations. Find out if there are any other options worth considering that will get you to your short and long-term goals.
If you were running a company as the CEO of your business, you would have the final say in the business plan. You should also actively direct the trajectory of your medical treatment and health pursuits.
The responsibility for change is on you. Sift through the recommendations and once you decide what plan to pursue, do it with great dedication.
Don’t get in your own way! If you are struggling to make the health affirming changes you need, ask for help.
By following these steps, you will have a more satisfying relationship with your providers, see better results and feel more empowered about your role in your health.