Navigating Your First Visit To A Specialist

Navigating Your First Visit To A Specialist

Perhaps you had an injury... perhaps something just started hurting you. You're concerned, nervous, and worried that you'll need an operation.

Relax... Some (messy) basics to get out of the way.

Healthcare is messy, even if you think you know how to navigate it (and even more so if you're a VIP). Patients are rushed. Doctors are rushed, too. As a patient, you'll probably start explaining your case and be interrupted within 10-15 seconds. You may not be examined, and perhaps your treatment recommendation will be based only on your MRI results and not on the other things that matter orders of magnitude more. This is all, sadly, normal.

"But I have a tear!" Not all "tears" are a problem. Very few require surgery. Many of your MRI findings are age-appropriate and were there long before your pain started.

The lay of the land

First, some assumptions. Hospitals employ many doctors. The private equity-backed healthcare organizations employ many more. Heck, many hospitals are venture-backed businesses that happen to own some hospitals, too.

These can be challenging visits. Your doctor will be reporting to some young kid with a laptop and a bunch of spreadsheets. Investor owners are only interested in your health from a business perspective; doctors are their biggest expense item. As a result, they will try hard to ensure they do not damage their income statement. If that happens and persists, that young MBA with the laptop loses his or her job.

"You're not seeing enough patients/hour"

"You're not ordering enough braces, MRIs, or giving enough injections"

"Your surgery numbers were down last month"

"You will not hit your bonus this month"

Never forget healthcare is a business first and foremost. Don't listen to their advertisements or read the signs on the wall. Know where you are.

Okay... so back to the goal... how should you prepare for your initial visit to see a specialist? You can make this a useful visit... if you understand how this is going to go down.

One of us has fairly extensive professional experience in the medical office setting, and the other has fairly extensive experience as a frequently injured athlete. Navigating the healthcare system is complicated and fraught with the risk of overdiagnosis and over-treatment. Below, for our paid subscribers, we will dive much deeper into how to prepare for your journey through a specialist's office.

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