INFLUENZA

Every year in October, I write about the flu shot.  When I was in practice, I invested a large amount of my time convincing patients to get a flu shot.  As a businessman, it was time poorly spent as I made very little money by giving patients the influenza vaccine.

As a physician, it was my sworn duty to protect my patients from preventable diseases; and, even though the influenza vaccine was inconsistent in its ability to protect my patients, it was the best I had.  So, I spent 10 minutes per visit teaching my patients the ins and outs of the flu shot.  Often, my patients would refuse my offer justifying their decision based on crap they gleaned from the internet.

About 10 years ago I had an epiphany.  It dawned on me that, if my patients received the flu shot, I would make $2 but if they got influenza I would make $300.  At that point, I changed tactics.  I started into my educational promotion of the influenza vaccine and as soon as my patient balked, I switch to giving them the economic information listed above.  It worked and a greater percentage of my patients consented and received the vaccine.

The media, insurance companies, internet, and government have done a great job at convincing the public that doctors aren’t to be trusted. Those of my readers who know me well, know that you can trust me.  So, trust me and get your flu shot ASAP.  If for any reason you feel the internet is more trustworthy than your doc, get a new doc.

One last point.  You want to find a doctor to care for you and your family, not a “provider.”  It may sound like the difference is simply semantics.  It’s not!  It’s philosophical!!  I’m a doctor no matter how the insurance company labels me.  My new doc is a doctor as well.  She’ll go to bat for me when necessary.  A “provider” will not.  Ultimately, it boils down to the fact that the “provider” works for the insurance company and the doctor works for his/her patients.

Here’s a song for today and a joke.

Doc – “You’re very sick!”

Patient – “Can I get a second opinion?”

Doc – “Of course.  You’re ugly, too.”

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