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What Will You Really Tell Your Doctor?

When you meet with your family physician, you have a decision to make. Will you tell your doctor what’s really going on with your health? Or will you minimize your symptoms and hope for a quick stamp of medical approval? 

The American Medical Association emphasizes in its Code of Medical Ethics the importance of a physician using “sound medical judgment on patients’ behalf, and to advocate for their patients’ welfare.” Your doctor is both professionally and morally committed to helping safeguard your health. But your physician cannot do this well without your help. 

April 7 is World Health Day, a united effort to raise awareness of better health for people all over the globe. This year’s theme is “Health for All,” with an opportunity to tackle the health challenges for every individual on the planet. This includes the health challenges for those of us in the greater-Omaha area. 

Think Family Medicine physician Margo Anderson-Fowler is dedicated to providing “health for all” as she strengthens communication and trust with her patients. As the think Chief of Medical Executive Committee and Director of Provider Affairs, Dr. Anderson-Fowler is also committed to ensuring that all think healthcare providers are making sound medical judgments and advocating for your personal welfare. Dr. Anderson-Fowler offers helpful insights on how to work even better with your healthcare team. 

Are visits with my Family Medicine doctor that necessary?

I’ve been a Family Practice physician for over 30 years, and while many of my patients are intelligent and well-read, I don’t think they quite understand what goes on behind the scenes with their doctor visits. Patients may know about the importance of skin cancer screenings and getting immunizations and other preventive health checks, but they probably don’t realize what their primary care doctor does to ensure the best possible care. 

As physicians, we know a patient’s family history. We know if you are at higher risk for cancer or other diseases. We also know the genetic side of your health, which we review before you even come in for your appointment. We know your family history and whether you need any health screening earlier than typically recommended. We keep updated on the overall picture of your health. 

What about researching my medical symptoms online? 

Patients often ask me if it’s okay to check online health resources. Dr. Google is important until the online search starts to send patients on a frantic, nerve-wracking goose chase. I like patients to come in with information and having thought about their symptoms. I tell patients that the facts I share with them are not an opinion, the facts are not my personal beliefs. What I share about a patient’s health is backed up by millions of studies, and so I have their best interest at heart.

As a doctor, I don’t walk into a patient exam room with a preconceived answer, and I don’t want my patients to do this as well. We need to have an open and honest discussion about health concerns. I tell my patients to search on reputable websites such as WebMD.com or the American Academy of Family Practice site called Family Doc. But if you research online and start to go down a trail that is all dark and focuses on cancer and other awful diseases that is not good for your mental health, your spiritual health or your physical health. You need to stop online when you start going down that rabbit hole. Instead, know it’s okay to just come in and talk to with me or another think provider about your symptoms and concerns. 

As physicians and healthcare professionals, one of our challenges is to get accurate information out to the general public about what is real concerning screenings, immunizations and other health topics versus what people hear or read about through social media. There can be a huge disconnect with what is medically true and what people perceive is true. 

What if I’m kind of embarrassed to see my doctor?

Feeling hesitant to see your doctor can be something as common as getting weighed when you come in. That can be a big deal and a shame deal for many people. Medically, we need to know a patient’s weight, but that should not stop a person from good health. Money is also a reason patients may put off medical appointments. Some people are on extra-tight budgets or are just not sure what their health insurance will cover, so they postpone seeking medical care. 

People are also very hard on themselves, and they have already chastised themselves a hundred times before I even get in the room. I’m not there to get after my patients about their weight or their smoking or a certain lifestyle habit. I’m there to approach the health concern with each patient and together we come up with a plan of next steps.

I also assure patients that their medical condition is not a personality flaw, it’s a disease state. Many patients fear they will be chastised by their care provider, but most of us do not reach our goals by being chastised. Patients have to be in on the diagnosis and health goals. They have to truly believe that something can be done and that they are part of the solution. 

What helps strengthen my patient-physician relationship?

The relationship that you have with your healthcare provider is super important in your life. Both you and your physician need to trust each other, and we have to be honest with each other. A bit of what we’ve lost in healthcare over the years is the patient-physician relationship. This is something we focus on at think—building a trust between you and your physician. I trust that you will tell me your symptoms, and you trust that I’m going to take those symptoms seriously. You are not bothering me by giving me your symptoms. 

We keep in contact, and when you come in you are not afraid to share the little things. You trust me to decide if those things you share are important or not. There’s been a shift in healthcare so we don’t have as much time as we used to with patients, but I reassure my patients that all their concerns are important. If a patient has several health issues to discuss, I may say, “Let’s address this and this today, and let’s have you back and address this and this.”

Life is all just so hurried now, but anything that is important in our lives, such as mental, physical and spiritual health, takes time to work through. It takes relationship. Again that takes honesty just as much on my side as it does on the patient’s side. When our think patients come in and see the same people each time, they learn to trust again and again that we can be open and honest with each other. 

What makes think an exceptional healthcare choice?

We are always rated one of the top Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) for preventative healthcare. We get judged on how good we are at addressing your health issues. Is your blood pressure controlled? Have you had your pap? Have you had your mammogram? And at think, almost everything you need medically is in one building. Our goal is that when you come in, you are super healthy. You come in once a year to get your annual physical, and we aim to have everything scheduled and any tests completed the same day. 

When you come to think, our goal is to complete services on site so we improve the cost for you. With our efficient working together as one whole person healthcare team, you take less time off work or from other activities. We have answers for you quickly and want you to live a healthy life. We are always on your side, serving you with truth, honesty and compassionate care today and for years to come.

NEED MEDICAL CARE? CONSIDER THINK YOUR GO-TO FOR BETTER HEALTH

Think Whole Person Healthcare is dedicated to keeping you healthy through preventative care and treatment for a wide range of medical conditions. From the bothersome joint pain to the persistent respiratory illness, our physicians, advanced practice providers and specialists are committed to you and your family’s lifelong health and well-being. 

Our walk-in clinic treats anyone, even those who are not a think patient or do not have a primary care provider currently. To learn more about our comprehensive healthcare services, visit our Services page online and choose your own think medical professionals by visiting our Meet Your Doctor page. 

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