Have you ever been excited about a decision that was
challenged by a loved one? Recently, my wife asked me
“Why are you going back to the store for a second time,
really?” What she meant and what you need to discover
is, “What’s the real reason for that decision?” For me, it
was more ice cream! Now, it might seem like you are being
called out, but actually it’s the opposite.
Getting real about what you want is the best way to gain
alignment. The question is powerful because it is clarifying.
Why are you seeing that specialist, or having that surgery, or
you name it? This question helps you and your provider get
aligned and focus on the real goal, not your symptoms.
You are saying, “Hey, health system — this is what I really
need from you in order to get back to my work and my life.”
Getting that idea clear in your head is critically important
before you step into the health system.
Secondly, and just as important, that question can help
you see when your doctor isn’t the right fit for your
needs. This simple question and the answer to it can save
you thousands of dollars and exhausting confusion. We
see it happen all the time.
A diagnosis is like your “current location” in your favorite
maps application. While the map may give you 3 different
arrival times, the starting point is still the same. From
there, the paths you can choose to get where you want
to go become more clear.
These are your paths to value in health — your destination.
Without a starting place, you can’t judge your care or
management plan. One sure way to be frustrated and waste
time and money is to have a care plan or management
plan without a diagnosis. That’s called treating symptoms.
When you are treating symptoms, you are not on the
path to healing or value, unless of course it’s a muscle strain or a cold. The main reason for frustration with
many of our clients is that they are being treated
without a clear diagnosis. This causes them to live with
uncertainty. Uncertainty causes stress and drives us all
crazy. Without knowing where we are when we start
a journey, we feel uncertain about where to go next.
I can name several conditions where a change in the
symptoms doesn’t necessarily convey improvement
or worsening of health. So, remember, be clear about
what you want and get a clear diagnosis. You will save
time, money, and stress.
Did you catch that? I didn’t tell you to set your own
expectations, but to make sure your doctor sets the
expectations. The reason I say this is because this is the
next stage in “getting what you want from the healthcare
system.” This is where a provider communicates a
treatment plan, expected range of symptoms, and the
possible complications related to the condition. Yes, you
can go to Dr. Google, but that’s scary. Have you ever
looked up Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (Don’t do it! Couldn’t
help it could you?)
Like anything, complications can range from a mild form
to an extreme form. In my sub-specialty practice where I
am referred the most complicated cases, the majority of
new diagnoses are mild. Rarely do my patients experience
all that Dr. Google will show them.
Expanding your expectations too far to the extreme is scary
and creates unnecessary panic, even in the most stoic individual.
I am not advocating not doing your own homework, but rather,
allow your providers to guide you forward with professional
insight. That is why you are seeing them, right? I want you to
expect them to guide you, but I also want you to have some
parameters of what that should look and feel like
It should feel like someone is walking you into your future.
You should see a clear image of how your life will
be affected or not affected by the information. I like
what my friend Chris Hogan says, “To be unclear is to be
unkind.” This is a great way to know whether you and your
provider are a good fit for one another. I want to give
you the leverage to keep looking for a provider who can manage your expectations well, and who communicates
clearly and often.
When your expectations are set you know exactly where
you are and where you should be within the near and distant
future. You gain clarity. In most cases, health conditions have a
timeline of symptom progression and symptom relief. What
I want you to do is have an expectation because a timeline
and treatment plan exists. It’s just a matter of whether
your provider knows it or has shared the information in
a way you can understand (that’s usually within the context
of your life), or even shared it at all. Either way, ask! Again, the
answer will tell you what to do next. In my experience,
removing uncertainty by setting clear expectations with
my patients, even when the diagnosis is concerning,
has resulted in happier patients with better outcomes,
because they still feel in control, despite the circumstances.
How can you check if the expectations have been set?
Imagine you are on your way home from the doctor’s
office, and as soon as you walk in the door you encounter
a friend or a family member. Can you answer their
questions: “What did the doctor say? What’s the next
step?” You need to be able to summarize the diagnosis
and the plan in less than 30 seconds. If you can’t, ask your
doctor to fill in the gaps.
Have you ever been to a circus and were completely
amazed by all the clowns coming out of one small car?
I am amazed every time. How did they all get in there
and what are they doing? Well, that’s what it’s like for
patients when you have too many providers touching
your care. It’s a circus.
The number one driver for bad experiences, increased cost,
medical errors and wasted time is too many providers.
From our experience, the more providers you have, the
less likely you are to have a true quarterback or a guide
for your care. The providers are looking to one another
to be in charge but no one is leading. They all begin
to function as separate units, not one unit. Without a true
leader, you’re at risk for medical errors, conflicting care, unnecessary procedures, and other adverse effects.
For patients, it’s not enough to simply know the roles of
the people touching your care. You must also speak up
for yourself, fight for what you need, and communicate
well with each of those providers. But unfortunately,
a lot of people don’t feel comfortable or equipped to
advocate for themselves
If you need someone to advocate on your behalf, contact
Bedsiide. One of our Healthcare Assistants will listen to
your concerns, coordinate your care, and fight for your
The best laid plans can go awry. It’s normal and it is to be
expected. New symptoms, worsening symptoms, fear, and
anxiety often occur. You name it, anything can happen:
receiving a new diagnosis, working with a new provider,
or getting new unexpected results. These can all cause
confusion and shake your confidence with the path you’re
on and the people who are on it with you
So, I want to encourage you to plan for the unexpected by
scheduling a check-in point with your provider no more
than 3 months out (this timeframe varies based on the
diagnosis.) The more complex and newer the diagnosis,
the sooner you should schedule a follow up. Secondly,
plan for an emergency. Where are you going to go
and who are you going to call? What are the events or
symptoms that signal you to go to the emergency room?
That’s it! I know it’s simple. Five
things. It’s really not that hard and
it’s something that everyone can do.
You just have to have the clarity and
confidence to do it.
For your convenience, I’ve included a 5 Steps to Value in
Healthcare Checklist that you can share and discuss with
your employees. You’ll find it at the end of the article.
If you would like to give your team access to Bedsiide
Personal Healthcare Management Services, contact us today
at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 1-888-777-0414, or visit our
website at www.bedsiide.com to schedule an appointment.
Getting real about what you want is the best way to gain alignment in the health system.
Why are you seeing that specialist, or having that surgery, or you name it? This question helps you and your provider get
aligned and focus on the real goal, not your symptoms.
You are saying, “Hey, health system – this is what I really need from you, in order to get back to my work and my life.” Getting
that idea clear in your head is super important before you step into the health system. Having clarity saves you thousands
of dollars, confusion and exhaustion.