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Excerpt: Six Things I Wish All Healthcare Providers Knew When Caring for Those With Chronic Illness

Posted by Natasha Graves on

Excerpt: Six Things I Wish All Healthcare Providers Knew When Caring for Those With Chronic Illness

Excerpt from "My Hidden Truths" by Natasha N. Graves available on Amazon.

"Merging my personal and professional worlds, here are the things I wish all health care providers knew about when caring for patients, especially those with chronic illnesses:

  1. I respect your time by showing up to my appointment on time, so I expect you to try to do the same. I understand that previous appointments or meetings run long or you may have an unexpected emergency. I get that. However, when I am consistently the first appointment of the day and you stroll into the office a half hour late with the coffee that you stopped for on your way; that is disrespectful. Also, don’t rush me. I understand that you may have a busy waiting room or that your appointment times may have been scheduled for only ten minutes apart. You have to keep in mind that if you rush me, I may forget to tell you something that it important to my health or I may not want to talk to you because I don’t feel appreciated. Look me in the eye and face towards me when we speak. Actually listen to what I say instead of making assumptions or putting words into my mouth. Make sure I understand what you’re telling me and leave time for me to ask questions, because I probably do have them. If I don’t have questions, is there a way for me to reach you if I do because I probably will think of some later. Be mindful of your patients and their time.

  2. Try your best to be culturally competent. You don’t have to know everything that there is about every culture, language or religion but be mindful about these aspects when dealing with patients. My religion may prevent me from adhering to your treatment. The men in my family may be the ones that make medical decisions for my family. I may need to pray before each procedure. I may speak a language other than English and want to use an interpreter so that I may understand my diagnosis or ask questions.

  3. Be mindful of money. Just because I currently have insurance, doesn’t mean I will in the future. If your patient doesn’t have insurance, how can you expect them to come back to see you every two weeks? Even with insurance, how can you expect me pay $600 out of pocket for a medical device in your office but online I can pay $30 for the same

    product. Personally, I see about nine specialists and end up paying approximately $200 a month in copays, about $100 a month in medications, and that doesn’t include my deductible or bills for what insurance doesn’t cover. Sometimes I may not adhere to my medication because it may be a question of having the money to eat or having the money to buy a medication.

  4. Please coordinate and cooperate. The ailments that I am seeing multiple specialists for are all connected. Each doctor sends me to see another specialist or for tests, sometimes without any coordination or follow up. Once a patient is outside of your office, they may not be a concern. This leaves patients confused and having to fend for themselves to find new doctors and figure out how to proceed. I understand that most health care providers have large egos and are very competitive; that is how you became doctors. However, in order to provide quality care for your patients and not just make money, you need to collaborate and work together with each other in order to provide the best care and make sure that this optimal result is achieved.

  5. Be honest. Most health care providers have large egos. Many patients with chronic illnesses have complex medical needs. I am coming to you for your medical expertise as you’re the one who went to medical school, but it is understandable if there are things that you don’t know. If you’re a cardiologist, you may not know much about neurology. Or you may not have ever heard of one of my medical issues before. But please, be honest. I would rather you tell me that you don’t know about my condition or that you don’t know how to treat me, than making something up or guessing. I would prefer you to send me to someone who has more expertise than for you to half ass my medical care.

  6. Treat me as an equal. I may not have the medical degree that you have, but I am an expert on my own body. I can normally tell when something is wrong. I have done a wealth of research on my own health and conditions, so I may actually know about things that you don’t know about. Let me ask questions, present my research and thoughts, and suggest possible solutions. I will be more willing to adhere to a treatment, trust you to provide my care, or be receptive to a procedure if we work together versus the “one-man doctor show”."

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