Viewpoint: Stop calling patients 'consumers'

Calling patients "consumers" reduces the role of physicians to "providers," who are essentially assembly line workers, writes Chuck Dinerstein, MD, a retired vascular surgeon and senior medical fellow at the American Council on Science and Health.  

In a blog for the American Council on Science and Health, Dr. Dinerstein contends the words "consumer" and "provider" cheapen the physician-patient relationship. Consumers have wants; patients have needs. Providers meet demand; physicians serve needs.

"All I want for Christmas is to be a physician, not a provider and to have more patients and fewer healthcare consumers," Dr. Dinerstein writes.

The consumer-provider relationship also threatens to devalue care, he says. It requires consumers to be knowledgeable and able to identify their needs, and it allows them to drop a provider for a new model at any time.

"Is that how a 'healing relationship' appears? The physician-patient relationship is about shared vulnerability," Dr. Dinerstein writes. "The vulnerability of the patient to stand before you, admittedly with less power and control, exposing physical loss and psychic uncertainty. The physician is also vulnerable, entrusted with something of inestimable value to another, and uncertain that they can make it better, let alone, heal."

Read the full post here.

 

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