Dr. Pattan Jaffar Ali Khan
MD; DPH; DPH&H; DCBD; MSc(Nutrn); FAIMS; PhD; MBA; MHRM.
Why Do Patients Prefer Quacks For Their Healthcare Needs
Nov 8 2015
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Most of the modern doctors suffer from Hemianopia, the one-sided vision, as they bother and are concerned only with their point of view, quite ignoring the other side. They think that only they are right all the time and refuse to understand other’s views. Further, they behave in a reserved manner keeping a distance from the patients with an egoistic outlook. They are adamant to accept other’s views and consider it as a challenge to their knowledge.They forget the fact that patients come from different levels of social strata and knowledge. It is here that they are distancing themselves from the patients.
To solve any problem, it is a matter of common sense that we should go to the root of the problem to understand it and then devise a suitable strategy to act on it. It is a good initiative that recently Telangana State Medical Association has taken to end quackery from the state. But it is not such an easy task. Can we be able to eliminate this deep-rooted practice of quackery by pressure, policies or laws? Due to several reasons including corruption, all our such efforts will prove to be futile and only remain on paper and in files.
Quackery is deep rooted in our society since many years.It is not a recent trend. It is even gradually increasing day by day, as more and more professionals of other streams are entering this field. They take it easy and do it openly because they are sure that no action can be taken against them either by the government or by the concerned professional bodies or associations which they find to be too weak to be able to do anything.
Have we ever given a thought as to why and how this quackery is existing and even flourishing in the society and why patients are choosing or even preferring quacks for their healthcare needs? We need to have a review of the problem. We should clearly understand that as long as patients patronize them, no amount of law can deal with it or will be able to eliminate it.. First of all, before taking any action, we should change the mentality of the patients in our favour. This is possible only with a drastic change in our attitude towards the patients so as to attract them to our side. Then quackery, will automatically face a natural death due to the lack of support from the society.
Patients prefer quacks for different reasons. They mix with the public very easily, they are from the same community, they establish strong rapport with the people, their behaviour and manners towards the patients are excellent, they communicate with them very easily and with utmost patience, there is no need for waiting or seeking appointment from them to avail their services, they have sympathy and understanding for them, they deliver the services at their door steps,they are available for emergency services at any point of time, their financial expectations are not high, not fixed, no need to pay on the spot, can be paid in cash or kind at any time. They even give some medicines from their side for the time being so that the patient need not rush to a pharmacy to get them on the spot and they are culturally and status wise compatible and mix with the patients. Under these circumstances and with so many advantages, which patient will opt to forego such facilities and opportunities? What reason they have to seek an alternative source of such services from outside, unless they are beyond their scope and abilities? Looking to our side, how many of us are offering such facilities to the patients? Then why should we expect that they will prefer us to the quacks? The British Medical Journal of Medicine published some expectations of the patients from their doctors, which cover some of the above-mentioned ones.Unless and until we address and meet these expectations of the patients, we can not expect that they will turn to us.
Healthcare has now become more patient focused, with patients’ expectations assuming greater responsibility for their health. Patients want to be heard and cared for in a good environment. They appreciate courtesy, attention and sincere interest in them with a chance to be heard. Treating patients with care and compassion makes a lot of difference than our science. Dr Martin Fischer says, ” The patient does not care about your science. What he wants to know is can you cure him?” Growing research evidence points out the importance of compassion and communication. One study at the Institute of Medicine reported that more than 80% of the people expressed their desire for their care provider to listen to them, but only 60% got it. As per the report of the Health Research Institute in New York in 2012, published in the article ” Customer experience in healthcare”, non-clinical elements such as convenience, customer service, staff attitude, communication, accessibility matters much to the patient. Patients want to be treated with kindness,and empathy and they expect hope and follow-up care from the doctor. Are we looking into these perspectives and expectations of the patients?
In a recent issue of JAMA, Dr Allan Detsky, a Health Policy expert at the University of Toronto, expressed the view regarding what patients really want from their healthcare providers says kindness, hope and certainty and more value with the least resources are their primary expectations and efficiency is at the lowest in their list. Let us understand the patients better before expecting their favourable attitude towards us.