I feel uninformed and helpless when it comes to medical services. I guess I feel the same way about other things too, like getting work done on my car, but in that case I’m usually just risking paying too much money. I don’t mean to say that I think I’ve ever been taken advantage of from a mechanic or anyone else, but I don’t like not knowing.
I first started to feel uncomfortable about the way medical services are set up when I would go to the optometrist. Even though everyone was very nice and I didn’t doubt their medical competency, it also felt like I was getting a lot of sales pitches. Get a picture taken of your eyes for only $25! Get all sorts of fancy coatings on your lenses! Special glasses for computers! It’s a store. The same place, and often the same person, that examines the health of my eyes and provides medical advice also sells products to solve vision issues. It makes me really uncomfortable, and it’s one of those things that feels like it should be illegal. I would prefer to be evaluated by someone who gets paid the same amount for their medical opinion, regardless of whether their advice is to buy something or not.
There’s an interesting TED talk by Leana Wen (with a sensational title that I think is unfair to apply to all doctors) which talks about the idea of doctors being voluntarily more transparent about what their biases and conflicts of interest might be.
The end goal for me is to get the best advice, and I think that transparency is one tool that could help us to get there even before it’s illegal for my eye doctor to profit from selling me glasses instead of referring me to a laser eye surgeon or Warby Parker.