Two Doctors (Issue 933)

In which we are encouraged to lead our clients to new insights rather than reacting to their requests or complaints.

On Friday, I went to see my “new doctor“ for my annual physical, my first one with this doctor. My “old doctor“ retired last year; he had been my physician for over… well, let’s say, a long time. And we had a consistent annual physical routine… Height, weight, lab work, EKG, lung capacity test, hearing, eyesight, and a 20-minute physical exam. Very thorough.

So I went to the new doctor, expecting something similar. [I chose my new doctor on the recommendation of a friend. He’s known as one of the “doctors‘ doctors” in our medical community. He is a terrific clinician with a great network of specialists.]

His assistant did my height and weight, checked my blood pressure, and took my temperature. All good. When the doctor appeared (On time, yay! Good start.), he began our visit by asking, “How are you?” and then “What questions do you have or what would you like to focus on?“

So, we talked a bit about my concerns; he offered several thoughtful recommendations. I took deep breaths for the cold stethoscope drill and he did an abdominal palpitation. Again, all good.

“So, I’ll order a couple of tests from the lab on the questions you raised and I’ll see you in a year”, he said. “I’ll be here if you need me.” And we were finished. I headed to the lab for the blood draw……feeling a bit puzzled.

Where the “old doctor“ did an annual diagnostic survey – ordered a full blood screen, looked at the data from that and the other annual diagnostics – eyes, ears, lungs, and heart – and considered the trends as well as whatever current ailments I described, the new doctor’s approach was much more efficient and direct – “Tell me your concerns and I’ll address them.”

He hadn’t read any of my “old doctor’s” notes in the medical record (“they’re all on paper in a file, we don’t have time to review them that way”). He hadn’t looked at any of my previous lab results (also in the old doctor’s file, not on the new doctor’s computer system). Which left me wondering, “If he’s expecting me to identify ‘what’s wrong’, what about stuff that isn’t yet obvious to me but would show up in the lab data or through some other diagnostic process that I would not know to ask for?”

Reflecting on friends’ experiences with various diseases left unnamed here: If we wait for our clients or patients to tell us where it hurts before we take action… while we may be more efficient with our time, we may miss opportunities to help clients anticipate or avoid difficult challenges we could have nipped early and we may undermine client perceptions of our value and our credibility, whether it’s physical wellness, operational wellness, or financial wellness.

Ah, well. I’m now an advocate for shareable electronic medical records and I’ll know what to ask for next year.

Nick Miller trains banks and bankers to attract and expand relationships with business clients. More profitable relationships, faster. He is President of Clarity Advantage based in Concord, MA. Additional articles on Clarity’s web site.

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