Friday, July 9, 2010


The AARP Bulletin’s July-August edition features an article on patient-doctor “speed-dating.”

Yup, you read that right. At the Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital, twenty patients recently paired off serially with physicians in five-minute sessions to assess compatibility.

That may sound a little crazy, but it’s on the right track. Patients need to consider their choice of physicians seriously. The relationship is, after all, a crucially intimate one, often involving life-and-death issues.

I can’t say I’d feel confident doing this in a hectic five-minute setting, but a more leisurely interview with a prospective doctor can be revealing. I encourage patients to request such a visit, offering to pay cash for fifteen minutes of the doc’s time. In my experience, most physicians welcome this opportunity. An added benefit is that patients can rule out those who decline interviews without spending a nickel.

What do you ask in this visit? Content doesn’t really matter. The task is to gauge how well you get along. Is the doc personable, and interested in you? Does he or she have good eye contact? Does the doc touch you (and is that a positive?) Is he or she fully present, or quaking to get on to the next patient? Does it seem like the doc takes good care of himself/herself? 
Having secured a physician in this way, believe me, he or she will treat you permanently like the unique individual you are.

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