First of all, Happy Deepavali to everyone who is celebrating the festival of lights. Also Nov 14 is “World Diabetes Day”. Let us make sure we spread more awareness of Diabetes at least to our near and dear ones. Also sorry about length of this post. I didn’t expect it to go this long. But please do read. 🙂
I will come to topic of this post little later.I will touch some of the #medsm tweets/topics that i saw in twitter recently before I come into the topic. I am going to narrate totally unrelated incidents and will try to make some sense out of it at the end.
@AtulChitnis commented in tweet about how bad is to have a medical insurance less than Rs.10L. With so much advanced procedures costing a fortune he was emphasizing the idea that any insurance that is less than 10L is basically nothing. It is not going to cover the most expensive procedures. I have my differences with this idea. But just remember how much you will be paying for your insurance every month for 10L insurance coverage.
There was a blogpost that @writeguy tweeted which said a very popular private hospital in Chennai was negligent on a patient care and it costed the life of a breadwinner of a family with very young kids. He was asking for opinions from doctors on how much medical negligence is true. Sad incident. Death at a young age is really painful.It aggravates when you think that they had financial capability to go beyond what an average Indian can spend. The family and friends feel that Doctors/Hospital management didn’t really give their best. Again I am not medically trained/educated to talk about negligence of doctors or the misunderstanding of family/friends. Another similar case was tweeted by @alexpaulmenon an IAS officer about his Father-in-law. One thing I would want hospitals to do is, to be more transparent. To provide results/procedures that they are doing to patients and keep them informed. Doesn’t matter, whether patients understand it or not. Hospital should take printouts of the test results and their inferences as much as possible. Legally there might be problems here, I will address that concern soon.
I have one blogpost for a long time on my drafts about “Second Opinions”. Lot of us don’t take second opinions in many critical medical procedures. I think that should change. We all should ask for second opinion before undergoing any critical surgeries/procedures. I would even go to the extent that if a patient feels that he/she needs a second opinion, doctor should be open to provide help on getting a second opinion. Oh there will be questions of how different another doctor suggested by the first one would differ and so on. I believe in people. I believe when life is at stake, the most educated community will not be silent to voice their opinions. Yes, this is more of a cultural change and will take some time before we all (including doctors) agree that asking for a second opinion is the right thing to do.
Now, to the topic of the post. Family doctors is a profession that is almost dead today. With today’s generation ready to move across oceans for work, with moving across the country every few months because of change in work, we have stopped seeing same doctor. On the other hand, today a doctor with just MBBS is almost never consulted. We want specialists for everything. This mentality is not just in cities, today even in towns across TamilNadu, doctors with just MBBS have hard time selling their services. Ever thought when this glamour for specialists came? I think that is because, we started going to doctor only when we are seriously ill. We all started Googling for medicines and started buying them over the counter for small problems with our body. Again, I am not saying whether it is a correct or not. I am just saying that this is what is triggering us to see specialists.
So where am I arriving at? With the younger generation like me earn more than what our fathers would have never thought of, live a lifestyle that we ourselves would have only thought in dreams, invest in houses that cost more than entire salary of previous generation, I think we are missing one good thing that our parents had. A family doctor. My dad was a postal clerk and we lived a middle class family life. Most of our doctor visits are to a hospital that is run by a trust for completely free. Doctor there knew us by name. In my sister’s case, she doesn’t need the case history to recall her health. She would know that the moment she sees my sister.
We are told that we need to pay hefty money for insurance. As much I understand Insurance, medical insurance in a country like India where the regulations don’t work is a pain than of “insurance”.
I think there needs to be a model that should emerge where I should be able to pay my “family doctor” a monthly fees for a reasonable number of visits. If not physically, I should at least be able to call him and get suggestions. I wouldn’t want him to be a specialist on anything , but should know the basics of medicine to diagnose bigger problems when there are some recurring signs. I would be happy to pay someone I see everyday than a medical insurance company. I should be able to pull him into decision making process where critical procedures are done. He should be able to choose doctors for second opinion, if needed. Hospitals have to allow him to look at the tests/procedures done to me. With the technological advancements, I should be able to reach him whenever i need, even if i am traveling somewhere. The same tech that brought us to this world of running across time zones, will/should help us to be healthy as well. Prevention is always better than cure, no? Also in the worst case like loss of life like the case of @writerguy ‘s friend, at least family can be sure that we tried everything on our capacity and just that science is yet to catch up with mother nature. Also legal cases also should be minimal because the family doctor who has no motive of making money with those procedures wouldn’t have recommended them, unless needed.
Please leave your thoughts as comments. I am sure I might be missing lot of things from a doctor/patient perspective. Put in your thoughts.What am I missing?