The goal of good healthcare is to make sure you get everything you need, but nothing you don’t need. Anything you don’t need is only a risk.
We all know that the costs of healthcare are skyrocketing. Most people think that the drivers for the increasing costs are the expensive technologies and pharmaceuticals that provide nearly miraculous improvements in the treatment of common severe diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, and kidney failure. However, another major cause of the rising costs of healthcare lies in the overuse of less expensive testing and treatments that have no proven benefits.
Despite the attraction of many traditional or “cutting edge” weakly tested medications or treatment plans, they not only cost a lot of money, they also cause a lot of harm. The best way to be sure you don’t fall prey to overtesting and overtreatment is to be sure you and your doctor have fully explored the benefits, risks, alternatives, and unknowns of any test or treatment plan.
Get any test or treatment that you need to make a diagnosis or treat its consequences. But avoid any test or treatment that you don’t need; it is only a risk without any benefit.
The art of medicine is knowing how to analyze and balance benefits, risks, alternatives, and unknowns. I have done that with all of my patients for my entire career, and I still find it challenging. It starts with listening carefully to a person’s goals and values and then listening carefully to their story. Next, I try to match the true evidence supporting any tests or treatments being considered with the individual story, goals, and values.
If you would like to take charge of your own healthcare by being sure you’re getting everything you need, but nothing you don’t need, we can help.