As a digital healthcare company, we’ve found ways to tackle most of the time-wasting tasks healthcare providers face. We’ve simplified EMR data, put guideline standards side-by-side with patient results, and even created a tool to match patients with support programs.
Alas, there are some things software can’t fix (though we really, really wish we could).
Here’s one of them:
Yes, we all know that patient - the one who walks in with a stack of papers from Web MD, convinced that their common cold is some rare cancer. While our time-saving powers are pretty great at Auxita, we have yet to crack the code on that one (though, in solidarity, we did hand out these mugs at a few trade shows this year).
We want to do our part to save healthcare providers’ time. Plus, we think it’s important for Canadian patients to understand how they can get the best possible care (after all, that Googling is usually done out of fear, not malice!). So, we’ve been listening to you (listening is kind of our thing) and have taken note of the biggest pet peeves shared by doctors, PAs and NPs across Canada. Now, we’re putting these points out into the world so patients and their health providers can get on the same page - once and for all.
Share this article, spread the word, make it known - these are 6 truths that doctors, PAs, NPs, and other health professionals really, really wish they could share with their patients.
Sorry, but Dr. Google doesn’t cut it.
Yes, it’s scary when you don’t quite know what’s going on with your body. But, you know what’s scarier? Worrying about an incorrect self-diagnosis, or worse still, deciding to take treatment into your own hands without checking in with a true professional.
Medical professionals look at a LOT of factors when determining a diagnosis, including many that so-called “Dr. Google” can’t access - your blood test results, family history, and other medications to name a few. It’s understandable that patients would want to look into their symptoms, but trusting Web MD over your physician is a big problem. Your health provider wants to spend their time discussing symptoms, medical background, and options instead of debating a printed article or forum. When someone has their minds made up, it can become very difficult to have an open dialogue about all the symptoms, background information, and possible diagnoses.
As a patient, you are an expert - an expert in what your body is feeling and experiencing. Focus on documenting and communicating your symptoms, so we can help you get better as efficiently as possible.
Specialists are, well, specialized.
While it is great to have a positive and trusting relationship with your specialist(s), it is important to remember that they are exactly that - specialized. Your gynaecologist is not the best person to ask about a headache, and your neurologist can’t really answer questions about a sprained ankle.
Yes, specialists have medical training. But, that doesn’t mean they can provide the same service as a family doctor. Your family physician must meet rigorous ongoing professional development and training standards in a variety of disciplines, while specialists spend their time keeping up-to-date on their area of expertise. Your family physician also likely has years of records and personal knowledge of your medical history, so they can put your issue into context.
Also keep in mind that if you’re seeing a specialist, they’ll keep your family doctor informed of the treatment plan and progress. Just like there is no need to take up a specialist’s time with issues better suited for a family physician, there is also no need to visit your family doctor regarding an issue a specialist is already working through with you. Talking to the right person about the right things can help you get the best health care as quickly as possible.
When you go to the walk-in clinic, your physician could foot the bill.
Maybe you want a “second opinion.” Or maybe, the walk-in clinic around the corner feels more convenient than driving out to your doctor’s office. But, please, think twice before taking a number at the local walk-in. Depending on the province you live in, your family doctor may be penalized for the visit.
When patients registered with a family doctor go to walk-in clinics, the government sees it as double-dipping. In some provinces, they send the bill for your visit straight to your doctor - after all, why would you need a walk-in if you’re getting adequate care?
Before visiting your local walk-in clinic, check whether your family practice has an after-hours number or offer their own walk-in hours. If you want a second opinion, your doctor will probably be happy to connect you with a specialist or someone else in their family practice.
It’s a win-win: your physician will avoid unnecessary penalties, and you’ll get care from people who truly know your medical history. This is known as “continuity of care” and it can make a big difference in your health - when the person helping you knows you personally and has access to all your files, they can better determine what is going on and what treatments might help.
Medical care is often a process, not a quick-fix solution.
We often talk about medical care in simple terms: identify symptoms, make a diagnosis, apply the treatment. In reality, the process isn’t always so straight-forward. The journey to a diagnosis can involve multiple tests and specialists, while treatment plans are often multilayered. Your doctor may recommend a combination of diet, exercise, medication, ongoing care, and other therapies - not quite the “magic pill” we often see in advertisements or online blogs.
In medicine, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. While doctors are often open to discussing different treatment options with their patients, they’d prefer to avoid spending time repeatedly explaining that there is no magic pill, and “getting better” will take time and effort.
Fees for prescription refills, doctor’s notes, and missed appointments are necessary for our operation.
Some family practices charge a nominal fee for services like prescription refills and missed appointments. That makes perfect sense - these services take time and resources from a clinic, but government medical programs do not cover them. Established clinics can get dozens of requests for prescription refills each week, taking up plenty of both the doctor and administrative staff’s time.
It’s not fun for your family practice to collect fees - frankly, it’s more paperwork and leads to uncomfortable conversations. But, they need to keep the lights on and pay their staff, so charging them is often necessary. Remember, your doctor will never charge you directly for any medical service that is already covered by the government.
Covered services can vary from province to province.
We hear a lot about “Canada’s healthcare system,” but the reality is that a lot varies between provinces and territories. While the Canada Health Act tells provinces the minimum they must cover, provinces and territories have discretion on the extent to which they participate in other health expenses. For example, some provinces cover prescription drugs fully, others cover drugs only for the young and elderly, and still others offer no coverage at all. As another example, British Columbia and Ontario cover midwifery services, while Quebec is unique in covering fertility treatments.
If you’re moving to a different province or territory, be sure to read up on the coverage differences to understand how it may impact you. It’s also a good idea to get a head start on any paperwork needed to secure a health card in your new home, as the systems themselves can differ greatly.
What about pet peeves that don’t involve patients?
Alright, patients, we’ve given you a hard enough time. Truth is, most of your healthcare providers’ time consuming issues and pet peeves have little to do with you. The problem, often, are all the things that prevent them from focusing on you the way they really want to.
When physicians, PAs, and nurse practitioners are with you, they want to be able to focus on you - which is a challenge, since they’re simultaneously doing risk calculations, clicking between test results, double-checking clinical guidelines, and documenting the visit. Yikes.
At Auxita, we help Canadian healthcare providers spend more time making eye contact and less time clicking through medical records. Auxita puts every test result, guideline, patient program, and treatment option together in one easy-to-use platform. Oh, and we offer all this powerful technology at absolutely NO cost (saving time and money? Yes, please!).
We may not be able to ban Dr. Google from doctors’ office, but we can give health providers the time and space to connect with their patients. Because in the end, that’s the 7th thing your doctor really wishes you knew: They genuinely care about your health, and want to do anything they can to help you feel better. Let’s make it as easy as possible to do just that.