When it comes to shopping for medical advice and health care, it seems like my generation (I'm a Baby Boomer) wants to run the show. At the same time, I always feel like the physicians refuse to give up the idea that they are God. Their way is the only way. Do you expect this to change anytime soon?
In the last 30 years, as the Baby Boomers became adults, the management of some conditions such as low back pain (LBP) has changed. Baby Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964. Parents of Baby Boomers were more likely to expect the doctor to make all the decisions. But patients today are active consumers. This has resulted in a new concept of patient care called shared decision-making.
Today's health care system can allow for shared decisions and a plan directed by the consumer. With all the information available on the Internet (including research results and treatment guidelines for various problems), patients can know what are the recommended guidelines for a specific disease, illness, or condition. They are in a good position to make treatment decisions for themselves.
But they can't do this alone. They must rely on medical doctors to recognize diseases, order appropriate tests and measures, and interpret the findings. As part of the evidence-based and outcomes movement, we have new research information about many problems.
Knowing the natural history of conditions helps physicians feel confident in prescribing the proper treatment. Sometimes there's more room for shared decision-making. For example, when the problem isn't life-threatening, the physician can outline all the options and let the consumer decide the best approach for him or her.
But in cases of serious conditions, patients may want to rely more heavily on the physician's knowledge of diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis. This is not to say that the patient doesn't have choices and options. But the potential risks and/or complications of some choices may not be medically advised.