I’d like to share an experience that I’m sure will resonate with you. My daughter went away for a weekend trip and on her return she had a cough. It was an annoying cough and her concern was that it was something more dire than a cold. So, she did the first thing we all do when we think we need further medical consultation….. she checked with Dr. Google and Dr. Wikipedia. On checking out her symptoms she was able to review the required medical diagnostics and the treatment that would be required. Then she went to the walk-in clinic to get the prescription.
I don’t think this behavior started as a conscious disagreement with the north American style of medicine but rather a realization that our health care providers are required to push through as many patients in a day as they can. (I’m not going to speculate on the reasons for this) So in order to get the right diagnosis and treatment the public has resorted to looking up information on-line.
The actual appointment went something like this:
Doctor: Hello, and how may I help you.
Daughter: I have a cough and it’s been hanging around a bit too long, I think I have chronic asthma. I had asthma as a child and have allergies that would predispose me to asthma. I think I need a puffer.
Doctor: Oh, ok. Let’s see, (the doctor is a little put off as he is being asked to prove or disprove a chronic diagnosis on a patient he has never seen and to prescribe a medication that may or may not be supportive). Let me listen to your lungs – and he does an appropriate assessment.
At the end of the physical assessment he disagrees with the patient’s diagnosis and gives a different one and writes a prescription for the same medication my daughter wanted.
Both are happy! She has the medication she went in for, he has been able to disprove Dr. Google and to prove “valued” advise (that she may or may not take under advisement).
As our day to day lives becomes more entangled in technology with wearable’s and apps we are only going to become more reliant on the individual findings and trends we see within the data on our own lives. In any given day, it is quite possible to know how much: sleep we had, steps we took, calories we ate, calories we burned. What our blood pressure is/was, what our heart rate is/was, what our insulin levels are/were, what our blood oxygen levels are, what our level of anxiety is/was, what our brain waves are/where and how much inflammation is in our body. We can have our genes analyzed, and our micro-biome studied.
We have complete control over all this information without consulting a healthcare practitioner. We determine what level of wellbeing we believe we are capable of achieving.
This is a fundamental shift in the role of the medical provider, away from someone who directs and “prescribes” to one who is a team member. One who collaborates and shares.
As we continue to be entangled in technology I believe our ability to choose our well-being will continue to grow. That is self-determined healthcare.