Thursday May 14, 2015
Face-to-Face With Dr. Oz: Benefits of Touting Family Medicine Outweigh Risks
When discussing treatment options with our patients, we consider the risks and the benefits of the various options available. Ideally, we seek choices with benefits that far outweigh the risks.
The same is true for leadership, but sometimes you have to boldly stick your neck out to make your message heard.
| Here I am talking with Mehmet Oz, M.D., on "The Dr. Oz Show." In a show about facing your fears, my segment dealt with the fact that some patients fear going to the doctor. I emphasized that patients need a family physician who can serve as their trusted health adviser.
Earlier this year, I got a phone call from Mehmet Oz, M.D., the cardiothoracic surgeon, author and TV host better known as Dr. Oz. We had met years before when I was working for the local NBC affiliate as a health consultant and reporter. His staff had initiated conversations with the Academy about interviewing me on his show, and now he was reaching out to me directly.
I hadn't jumped at the opportunity, and with good reason. It's been a rough year for Dr. Oz, who was called before Congress last summer because of concerns with some of the products that have been promoted on his show.
"You need to understand that our members aren't happy with some of your advice," I told him. I also let him know that family physicians are spending too much of our valuable time explaining to patients why we don't recommend some of the products and ideas they've seen on his show.
But again he asked me to come on the show to tell his audience about family medicine, and that audience is vast. Each weekday, nearly 2 million people tune in to watch on television, and many millions more watch online.
So here was a risk with a potentially huge benefit. This was an opportunity to talk to millions of Americans about the importance of family medicine and the critical role that primary care plays in health care. I could give this audience, which hasn't always received evidence-based information, a better understanding of who we are and what we do as family physicians.
As I considered it, the conclusion that I drew was that the benefits would outweigh any risks if I could reach viewers who don't have a primary care physician and make them realize that they should. Incredibly, that goal was accomplished before the show was ever broadcast.
The topic of the episode, which aired today, was fear(www.doctoroz.com). Specifically, my segment dealt with fear of going to the doctor, which can keep people away from our practices even when they are in dire need of care.
So we talked about why everyone needs a family physician, a trusted adviser who knows the patient and his or her family history. We talked about the scope of family medicine and the fact that we care for people from the beginning of life until the end. We also talked about our ability to help patients set and reach their personal health goals.
One woman in the audience had not seen a physician in more than a decade because of her personal fears and concerns about costs. When we had finished taping my segment, I walked over to her and said, "Can I help you find a family physician?"
"I would love that," she said.
I followed up with her, and -- with help from the New York State AFP -- was able to connect her with a family physician in her area. If nothing else, I know my appearance on that show made a difference for one person already.
We mitigated our risks with Dr. Oz as much as possible. We discussed beforehand things I would not do on the show, found out who the other guests would be, and received a guarantee that there wouldn't be any medical products or services or nutritional or diet products promoted during this episode.
This effort already helped at least one person in the studio audience. My hope is that viewers who see the episode on TV or online will find their way into our exam rooms. Americans need to understand the value and importance of what we do. For people to hear our message, we may have to take a few bold risks.
Wanda Filer, M.D., M.B.A., is president-elect of the AAFP.
Posted at 03:13PM May 14, 2015 by Wanda Filer, M.D.