I've been thinking about a question I often used to hear from my children when they were young - "Who is going to take care of me?". As both my husband and I had full time jobs and relied on a variety of babysitters, nannies and after-school programs to help cover childcare responsibilities, this was a reasonable question. In hindsight, I am beginning to think that they were asking a more global question - will someone provide GOOD CARE for them - instead of inquiring about a fact - WHO will care for me. My children knew that someone would care for them; what they wanted to know is what kind of care could they count on. Like all children, they had their favorite sitters and looked forward to days when those sitters were the ones providing the care. The reason the favored sitters were special to my children was a direct result of the care that was given when they were together. The personal attributes of the childcare provider that mattered most were the ones that influenced their ability to care for my children; not the ones that were reflective of who the sitter was as an individual. Compassion and selflessness mattered a whole lot more than age, appearance, social status, background, car owned, etc.
As a healthcare provider, I am seeing this same concept play out daily in the media and on social networks as well as in my office. The deep anger and frustration citizens express over our national leader's inabililty to address US healthcare's escalating costs and declining quality of service are real. Leaders craft policy by tinkering with health insurance funding but fail to appreciate the collateral damage of continual change. By now, most have faced the choice of paying out of network for their existing doctor or trying someone new. Forced to make a change, people are deeply concerned that the quality of healthcare that they expect will not match up with the level of healthcare they actually receive. The fear of the unknown results in a mix of disappointment and anxiety. If the new healthcare provider fails to meet the patient's expectations, the healthcare provider risks reinforcing the patient's feelings of anxiety and apprehension.
It is deeply important to me that my patients experience care that exceeds their expectations and puts their anxiety and apprehension to rest. Just as my children's concern with their daily care experience was of high importance and front of mind, I realize that this is the primary concern of my patients as well. The result is my commitment to create consistent patient experiences that build their confidence in my ability to care for their teeth, as well as for them.