,Rob Oliver: Thank you for being with me today on perspectives on health care, my guest today is Lindsay parks, he is an osteopath who practiced family medicine in a rural setting in western Pennsylvania, he is a member of the baby Boomer generation and Lindsay welcome to the show.
Lindsay Parks: Thank you, Sir appreciate it it’s good to be here.
Rob Oliver: Absolutely. So let’s jump right into this tell me about yourself and your role in health care.
Lindsay Parks: Well, looking back over my increasingly long life. I do remember that being a doctor was the only thing I ever wanted to be and I started working in a hospital volunteering in a hospital when I was 15 this same hospital, I was born in the same hospital my oldest son was born in. In Bryn Mawr Pennsylvania, and from there, I just steadily went on through high school college and Medical School and got to be the physician by the grace of God that I always wanted to be I don’t think there was ever a time in my life, where I did not want to be a doctor okay.
Rob Oliver: So can you tell me what drew you to the osteopathic route. Maybe some people aren’t familiar with it means to be an a doctor of osteopathy. What is that and kind of what’s your role there if you don’t mind.
Lindsay Parks: Well, it was the school that accepted me first and I had kind of made myself a promise that Whichever of the six medical schools in Philadelphia accepted me, first, I would go there. A DO has all the training that an MD has and then some, we have to pass the same boards have to pass the same licensing tests, but from day one, in an osteopathic Medical School they also teach you about the value of manipulative medicine, on the human spine and how it interacts with internal medical issues, so we have to learn that as well, we end up actually having considerably more training than the typical md has.
Rob Oliver: Okay, thanks for explaining that. What does quality healthcare mean to you?
Lindsay Parks: Well that’s a great question and quality initiatives are being studied and enforced by many of the third party payers, they are actually rating their physicians and physicians have to now maintain a number of items of quality or they may not be able to stay with the organization, so they base quality mostly on outcomes. But along the way towards outcomes, there are many, many things that have to be checked, many boxes that have to be checked. To make sure that each patient for each diagnosis is being given the very best medical care that nothing is being missed, and that all bases are being covered so quality has taken on a really bigger new meaning over the last 10 or 15 years okay.
Rob Oliver: I’m curious to get your opinion on this, if quality is based on outcomes sometimes there are it’s not going to be a good outcome if somebody is diagnosed with a terminal illness, the, the outcome is obviously going to be their passing. How can we… what’s your opinion on how to judge the quality of healthcare that the person is receiving, that when you don’t know, when sometimes the outcomes aren’t good or that you know, sometimes… For example, for someone like me who acquired a disability that’s not the desired outcome, you would like to be able to walk into do all those kinds of things, how do you judge quality healthcare when it comes to, you know, not the most desirable of outcomes.
Lindsay Parks: That’s a great question, going into the care of a patient there are realistic expectations that should be set between the physician and the patient and I viewed it that it was always a team approach to that. I could never force anything on a patient if they did not want it. Certainly in a terminal illness, there still are quality of care issues you want to make sure that the patient is being cared for socially and emotionally and spiritually as well as physically and in a terminal care case you want to make sure they get the best care heading into the terminology, because every once in a while you have the great joy of seeing it turned around but specifically for someone who is terminally ill, you want to make sure that their last days here are days without pain and suffering and to maintain their dignity, so there are a lot of things that go into that.
Rob Oliver: So, can you give me an example of quality healthcare?
Lindsay Parks: Well, from my perspective, as a physician, there were demands that I placed upon myself because quality healthcare, I feel generally starts with the practitioner, one of the things that was very difficult, they used to say that a family doctor knows less and less about more and more, because we have to cover almost everything from pediatrics to geriatrics and everything in between, I found out fairly quickly in my practice, and when I retired in this past December I had been 43 and a half years in the same office, which is kind of unusual today. But you have to stay current and I realized as the years went by that I was making diagnoses and treating illnesses that I never had learned about in medical school and it’s amazing how many new conditions are being discovered and needing to be treated so you have to stay current. Quality healthcare as far as an individual physician, you must be honest. You must be honest with the patient, you must also show them that you care. It is very important for a physician to be friendly and to be friend the patient. There’s no place in medicine for arrogance. And I know that you and I have both known and probably been treated by physicians who seem to have an I’m better than you attitude and that does not fly in a physician/patient relationship it just simply does not.
Rob Oliver: You know there’s an old joke about the difference between God and doctors is that God doesn’t think he’s a doctor, but I understand where you’re coming from and that, sadly, yes, I have had that experience. What do you wish people understood about your role in healthcare, whether that’s the osteopathic side of it or the family doctor practice what, what do you wish folks understood about your role?
Lindsay Parks: Well, a physician really needs to understand the fact that it’s a life, not a job.
Rob Oliver: How do you mean that?
Lindsay Parks: Well, you can get done your day at the office and come home to your family and then still be on call and be called back into the hospital several times at night and then have to get up the next morning and go back for another day it’s it is something that is very demanding it’s hard to get away from and, you know physicians just long for their time that is there’s where the beeper is often the phone is off and the like I always I always felt that patients needed to respect that too, but with a smile on my face I can’t tell you how many times with my family walking through the mall or walking through town, I would have somebody stopped me on the sidewalk and begin to tell me about their latest complaint and asked me what they should do about it so Doctors live a life it’s not just a job, but we do look forward to the moments that we can spend our life in private.
Rob Oliver: Yeah I would imagine it’s got to be like a fine line because as someone who has health concerns when I am when I’m having those they become first and foremost in my mind and so I see you as a doctor I’m like oh hey there’s my doctor I need to ask a question I’ve got this thing that’s been bothering me, and yet there is the need to have that balance at a very, very valid point. What excites you about the future of healthcare?
Lindsay Parks: Well I’m impressed by the quality of the new physicians that are being that being accepted into Medical School medical schools used to admit students based on their grade point average, no matter what their undergraduate was, but they are getting smarter now they are screening their students, they are looking for students, that are very well rounded but have had a significant interest in medicine. They are accepting them, based on what they perceive to be their potential as a good, well rounded physician. It’s also exciting to see the technological advances that are coming. It’s almost exponential how they are coming so rapidly. One of my philosophies as a physician was to never give up on a diagnosis and to always listen to the patient, I was taught in Medical School that if you listen to the patient long enough, they will tell you what’s wrong with them and that very often is true. Doctors are sometimes way more prone to talk and way less prone to listen, but with the new technology that’s coming. Every month there’s something new, along with that is how quickly new treatments are being found for new diagnoses, I mean, one of which would be how quickly they have been able to come up with effective vaccines for the SARS COVID virus, I mean, this was a worldwide pandemic that literally put a stranglehold on the world way over 4 million dead in the little over a year.
Lindsay Parks: And it’s been amazing that they have come up with these vaccines so quickly, they cut a lot of the legal red tape and they actually asked for human volunteers and many of them and found that some of these are not only effective for coven but they’re effective for the new variants that are coming Another example is the biological drugs that are being used to treat cancer and connective tissue diseases by stimulating the immune system very exciting medications on the horizon.
Rob Oliver: So it’s interesting that you to go back to what you said about if you listen to your patient long enough, they will tell you what’s wrong. The second part of that is something that I had an older doctor teach me, and that is if you listen to a little bit longer than that they may even tell you how to fix or treat what’s going on with them so, very interesting and I think you’ve led us into the final question, which is what is one thing, medical professionals can start doing today to improve the quality of healthcare?
Lindsay Parks: Well, I think the individual responsibility of each doctor. To be honest, to not be arrogant to be friendly to give the patient enough time and to not rush them through things doctors live a very rushed life, they have to meet up with time constraints, with quotas, they have to so many patients, a year, they need to give the patient, the time and the interest that each one of them deserves. And I’ll give you I’ll give you an example of this the doctors are being trained now to limit the complaints to one or two of visit and if you’ve got more come back and see me. Now I can understand the rationale behind that but I had a patient that I saw several times a year for his diabetes he’d had type one diabetes, for years, and had been on insulin as long as he could remember and we had a really good visit and everything was going along normally and I closed the chart and got up and put my hand on the door and was ready to escort him out to the desk and he says Doc There is one more question that I need to ask you, while I’m here, he said lately I’ve been waking up in the morning with my tongue and my lips all bloody. Well, I closed the door and I opened up the chart and I sat back down and we spend another half hour it through the rest of my day into chaos, but he was experiencing nocturnal seizures and in the middle of the night he was chewing his lips, and his gums and his tongue, so there were two ways I could have handled that I could have said “Well, let’s get you back here in a week or so and we’ll talk about that.” A patient really needs to have their complaints listen to, and the sooner the better, so I think quality health care begins with individual doctors, I think it’s critical that they learn to be honest, not arrogant they learn to be friendly and they give the patient enough time.
Rob Oliver: Fantastic Lindsay parks Thank you so much for joining me today and giving us your perspective on health care.