I go to the doctor far less frequently than I go to the dentist. Twice a year for the dentist. The doctor is only when I feel poorly or have an injury. Every few years for a checkup. That kind of thing. I suspect that this is a pretty common pattern. My health is quite variable in some senses though. I get the occasional headache. I’ll pull something while exercising. I’ll get a cold. My stomach will be upset. All sorts of things happen on an ongoing basis with my health that never make it to the point of having my doctor know about it.
Why is that? Lots of reasons. Too expensive and too time consuming to go for a visit for every ache or cough. Most things pass given a night’s sleep or in a few days time. One reason though is no existing habit or process to act differently than I currently do when these things come up. I was never taught, and I don’t know anyone who acts differently for these kinds of things so there is no model for a different way to approach them.
What should look different? It seems to me that I should be logging a lot more of this stuff to have it available to my doctor. Rather than my doctor only getting the few data points available when I am infrequently physically at his/her office (based on what I can remember right then) and then, most likely for a specific complaint, a lot more data about my ongoing health. If I have a headache logging that. Bad food episode? Log that. I could see this extending to weight, pulse, blood pressure and beyond depending on a person’s preferences. What would it cost me to perform common activities once a month and other issues as they occur? Not very much. The cost is in the logging and trying to get it to my doctor. That part seems easily resolvable.
That would provide my doctor with a lot more ongoing baseline detail about my health. I assume that would be useful. My doctor or someone in his/her practice and/or algorithms could get back with me with some targeted advice when necessary and/or when I should be coming in. From a practical standpoint, there is a lot of value to me in smaller scale interactions. Here is how I should deal with this achy knee. There seems to be a correlation with something causing a headache etc. Moreover, when something bigger happens, there is already a communications channel for monitoring the issue and providing more updates.
So why doesn’t my health care look like this?