You may wish you could spend a whole hour with your doctor, feeling relaxed and unhurried while your doctor lays healing hands on you. You may fantasize about asking all of the questions on your list, getting every question answered, and having time to pick your doctorís brain about the print outs you brought in from the internet search you did so you could be an informed consumer of health care services.† You may dream of truly understanding your diagnosis, having time to check in with your intuition about the treatment options your doctor recommends, and feeling confident that youíve made the right decision about whatís best for the body nobody knows better than you.
But the cold hard truth is that, in a health care system dominated by managed care restrictions that require many doctors to see more than 40 patients per day, the average doctorís visit now lasts 13 minutes. That means some will be a mere 5 minutes long, and only a lucky few will get 30 minutes with their doctors.
I know. It sucks. You deserve more time. You deserve to feel like youíre the center of your doctorís world, with as much time as you need in order to optimize your health and well-being.
I can tell you that your doctor wishes there was more time too. You doctor wants to sit next to you without a clock or a nurse banging on the door or a pager going off or a waiting room full of patients that will be pissed off if you spend too much time with any one patient. (I know. I was once one of those doctors, and I can attest to the fact that doctors are as frustrated with the system as you are.)
But until we revolutionize health care (trust me! Iím trying!), 13 minutes is what weíve got, so itís our responsibility to make the most of it.
8 Ways To Optimize Your Doctorís Visit
1. Do your homework.
The internet can be confusing, but when you know how to use it properly, it can also be an awesome source of medical information that can prepare you to make the most of your 13 minutes.† According to Pew Internet, 80 percent of internet users search for health information online. Google alone serves up 1.2 billion health searches per month.† But thereís no regulation of the information youíll find, and surveys show that fewer than 50 percent of searchers actually find the information useful. Many people type in their medical questions (How do you get herpes? Is it safe to eat tuna when youíre pregnant? How high is too high for my childís fever?) directly into Google. But the results you get depend on which site has the highest Google ranking, not who is delivering the most reliable answer to your question.
So where can you go for trusted medical advice online? I have good news! Iím so committed to empowering patients to take responsibility for their health that Iím partnering with†Avvo.com to launch the No Question Left Unanswered Campaign. Our goal is to provide one million trusted answers in 2012 to your health care questions – for free.† Youíll be able to type your medical question directly into Avvo.com and have it answered by a licensed physician – not just any olí doctor, but one whose credentials you can check out on comprehensive profiles which include patient and client reviews, as well as peer endorsements.
While the internet can never replace the one-on-one, individualized care youíll get from the doctor who knows you and can lay hands on you, websites like Avvo.com can educate you so you know which questions to save for your 13 minutes. So go ahead. Donít be shy.†Ask your burning question here and you might even win a free spot at my Heal Yourself, Heal The World retreat at yoga center Feathered Pipe Ranch in Montana this summer!