People are getting hurt. Do-it-yourself (DIY) and direct-to-consumer (D2C) healthcare remedies are putting the public at risk and the FDA and other agencies are quiet. We should not be.
When I asked my mentor Dan Kennedy this week how to deal with the proliferation of these “alternatives”, in his typical “professor of harsh reality” style, he gave the following advice.
And finally; “take a giant crap all over the alternatives.”
Of course, Dan was talking about protecting businesses and promoting profit. But as professionals, we should answer to a higher authority, our consciences.
It’s time we shine the light on the dangers of such products, expose them for the hazards they truly pose.
It’s time that we open up about the risks involved with these products that seek only to resolve symptoms without diagnosing or resolving the underlying causes of the problems.
In my opinion, if you or I acted in such an irresponsible mannerby treating before diagnosing, we’d have our licenses yanked or be subject to a malpractice suit.
Diagnosis before treatment? Is that such a novel idea?
As dentists, we can’t treat sleep apnea unless a physician has adequately diagnosed the patient and given us a letter of medical necessity. Doing so, could jeopardize our license.
But a recent Google search for home cures for sleep apnea yielded over 13 MILLION results and products shown ranging in prices from $24.97 to $1,650.
Do you confront this in your marketing, on your website or during your treatment presentations?
Or, are you constipated, afraid of confrontation for a variety of unfounded fears?
Do YOU, a licensed, experienced professional not have the authority to speak on the matter? And isn’t it a moral, ethical, and professional responsibility to educate people not only about the risks of recommended treatment, but the risk of no treatment, or alternative therapies?
Open up that oral sphincter and tell it like it is. DIY and D2C are, without a diagnosis, dangerous. And they are also menacing because they can give a false sense that the underlying problem has actually been resolved.
How many solutions are marketed for snoring? And yet, we know that snoring is not just an annoying symptom, it might be a sign that the person has Obstructive Sleep Apnea, a disease that has multiple comorbidities. It also means that the person breathes through their mouth, another health challenge whose importance we’re just beginning to appreciate, as it impacts the oral microbiome.
What about the DIY treatment of headaches or TMJ? How many doses of pain medication or “night guards” should it take before someone seeks to diagnose arthritic changes or a potential brain tumor?
Treating the snore, TMJ or headache and relieving a symptom of a potentially dangerous underlying cause can have fatal consequences.
Where are the class-action lawsuits? Is that how we want to police healthcare?
The DIY and D2C trends will not go away soon. There’s too much money at stake. Rather, wearables and AI-driven monitoring devices will help protect people from their underperformance. Some will pose as a replacement for a professional diagnosis. Technology will seek to supplant the most expensive interaction in healthcare, that between YOU and YOUR patient.
When you follow the money, where does it lead?
Who benefits from a reduction in a doctor-patient interface? Insurance companies, large healthcare systems and big tech do. Tough competition for doctors who suffer from alimentary blockage.
But rather than putting a cork in it, it’s time to confront it. If not for your own practice’s benefit, then for your patients’. You owe it to them to tell the stories and paint the pictures of how a DIY or D2C product might as readily cause harm as it is to resolve a symptom.
Stop the promotion of playing Russian Roulette with people’s health.
By promoting diagnosis and a process that reveals underlying causes as a prerequisite to ANY therapy, we fulfill our professional duty to “first do no harm.” Promote the VALUE of guided care and exceptional caring. Promote the fact that people are unique and complex and YOU the patient, deserve better. In fact, they deserve the best WE can offer, not Google, Amazon or YouTube.
Promote the cost of NOT DOING or NOT DOING THE RIGHT THING. That’s your job!
Eat some fiber, drink more water, munch on prunes, or just get up and move. Don’t sit back and let these trends sweep away your patients and your profits. Your patients deserve better, your practice does and so do you and your family.
Towards being more regular,
P.S. I’ve been a huge fan and practitioner of Dr. Robert Cialdini’s Principles of Influence for over 20 years. I’ve incorporated many of them into practices within my practice of dentistry. Now, through his new Institute, I’m officially CERTIFIED (as if I needed more letters after my name). Stay tuned, as I’ll regularly be sharing Influence Pearls that can help overcome the increasing resistance to excellent healthcare.