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Treatment Plans

By: Dr. Nathaniel Shober



part of the lack of desire to see a healthcare provider is, a patient not feeling empowered with their health.  Patients are often at the mercy of what the provider tells them what should be done.  Perhaps the following questions will help understand how a treatment plan is developed.   

First, what does the literature say?  In other words, what does the evidence show?  Research is absolutely not everything.  It is simply too difficult and costly to recreate studies for individual cases and studies must be done correctly to avoid biased outcomes.  Often studies can be found supporting or discrediting a therapy.  Nonetheless, it is information that doctors consider when recommending a treatment plan, in addition to helping a patient develop trust with the medical decision making.  While research is good to consider, often treatment plans weigh too heavy in this regard and do not regard the other considerations (read on) in a treatment plan.  On the other hand, in the case with many progressive therapies, the standard of care or common healthcare practice implemented in office, has not caught up with the science/literature.  For example, LASER therapy has been studied for 40+ years.  It is only now becoming more utilized in the treatment of many conditions.  

Second, what is the doctor’s experience with patient outcomes in the recommended treatment plan? Regardless of what the literature shows, perhaps a doctor has seen a particular therapy work in practice.  Again, the literature can only do so much with the variables in a case.  The patient in the room may not reflect the study parameters.  Or there may not be any evidence or enough data to support a recommended therapy.  It does not mean the therapy will not work.  Rather, the science has not caught up to the progressive treatments that have been tried in a clinical setting.  Copernicus could not yet prove that the earth traveled around the sun.  Despite the lack of evidence, he was correct based on his observations.  

Third, what are the patient’s health goals?  This is just as important if not the most important aspect to consider in formulating a treatment plan.  The number one complaint that people give about doctors, is “they don’t listen to me”.  Part of being a doctor is listening and educating.  Based on the doctor’s findings and information gathered, what does the patient truly want?  Perhaps it’s surgery.  Perhaps it’s trying things to avoid surgery.  The patient has a say in the care of their bodies, and absolutely should not be discredited.

So, if nothing else, patients should go into an appointment with their provider asking these three things of their proposed treatment plan:  Does the research support this treatment?  What is your experience with the effectiveness of the proposed treatment?  And, asking yourself, Does the treatment plan embody my health goals?  Each of these questions are not necessarily right or wrong.  But they should be considered to empower the patient with information when deciding on their health. 

Treatment Plans
* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.