Personalized Medicine

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Insist on personalized medicine and healthcare that is based on your history, condition and needs, not a preconceived standard of care.

Doctors and lawyers always talk about something called the standard of care. Have you ever wondered what that means, or where the term came from and how it might impact you or someone you loved?

As the medical industry has become more standardized by the large insurance companies, the hospitals, and the governmental regulators, changes have occurred in the role of the physician and how a treatment plan for you and your health is developed. The flow of change is towards what is called “evidence based criteria.” That basically means that computer data banks are being used to average everything out. Average cost for a procedure, average response to a diagnostic symptom, average prescription used for a particular diagnosis, average amount of time allowed for someone to remain in a hospital or to be off work because of an applied diagnostic label.

In many respects these are helpful data points. They are useful tools and may help focus interventions to make you better at less cost and in less time. However what is happening as this approach becomes more widespread, is that the authority and opportunity of the physician to practice the “art” of medicine is being challenged. The nature of the relationship between the physician and the patient is evolving into a less personal and more “computerized” or “regulated” relationship.

I think this is a mistake; what we are losing in our efforts to be more standardized and economical, is the relationship between the care giver and the care receiver. I don’t know about you, but I want those I love and care about to be able to have a doctor that knows them and their history. I want an enduring relationship where the wisdom and experience of the physician can be added to the mix of decision making and treatment protocols. I don’t want to be replaced by a computer or a regulatory policy that makes the treatment decisions for my patients. I, and every physician I know, have spent years trying to learn the things we need to know in order to properly assess and diagnose and treat the concerns of my patients. The data banks of evidence-based medicine are useful and helpful but they are not the end all and be all of health care. We need to continue to respect and utilize the earned wisdom of the front line physician. Let’s work hard not regulate that away for the illusory convenience of evidence based averages. At the end of the day, no one is average, we are all unique. We should utilize all our tools and not just those that present the data in a computer.