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How are you approaching your health?

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This is interesting to me as it truly reflects each individual’s value system. Are you willing to invest in preventative health care or are you committed to only treating it when it hurts badly enough or affects your activities of daily living?

Healthcare is changing drastically and our tried and trusted OHIP system is now limping along as it can no longer afford the escalating costs of medical equipment, staffing, office costs and; never mind; professional services. Perception of how much healthcare should cost is also wide and varied and adds an interesting mix as to the decisions patients need to make for themselves.

Has a healthcare system that has provided so much for us in the past actually crippled us in good critical thinking in relation to costs? I feel we all have a lot to learn as healthcare costs will fall more on individuals as less coverage from private insurance and OHIP is occurring. I often hear the misconception that if “OHIP doesn’t cover it, then it must not be necessary”. Medical technology has improved so much that in my lifetime as an optometrist, there are things I can now “see” that were not possible when I graduated from optometry school. Why anyone, particularly those with systemic diseases, would not opt for an OCT scan of the retina boggles my mind…but then, patients don’t know what they don’t know. They have no idea how valuable this information is to see things below the surface of the retina, before it can create lasting damage and get to a point where it is more challenging to treat (especially with our current delays in referral to specialists).

So now, a doctor needs to “sell” the technology in order for the patient to get the best care possible for the doctor to make a diagnosis. If it comes out clear and everything is good, that is a huge relief for both the doctor and the patient. However, does the patient feel they have been “cheated” as nothing was discovered? Yes, this is what comes up. Now we go for routine blood tests, CT scans, x rays etc and when they come out clear, we are relieved. Is that because these are currently covered? Will we feel differently when we need to pay for these scans/blood work in the future? How will these decisions being made by patients affect disease detection and prevention?

I am fortunate that I get the opportunity to educate my patients with what is recommended and I am fortunate that the majority of my patients take my recommendations. My main concern is that costs can interfere with preventative healthcare decisions when finances are tight. I also trust that my patients have a right to choose what tests they wish to do and not do, as long as they are aware of the potential consequences. One of my questions is “if cost was not an issue, would you have this test done”?

My team of doctors are incredible clinicians. I hope you value your eyes as much as we value caring for them. We strive to maintain the best equipment and the best staff to aid us in your healthy eyecare journey. Looking forward to working through these challenges together!


Written by Dr. Patricia Fink

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