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Dentistry is not a commodity

Commodity: A basic good used in commerce that is interchangeable with other commodities of the same type… The quality of a given commodity may differ slightly, but it is essentially uniform across producers.

Q: When is a patient like a bushel of corn? A: When they're treated like a commodity!

I recently made an appointment to have an esophageal scope procedure done. I have GERD pretty bad, and it’s finally my turn to have a GI specialist take a look. I got a referral to the specialist from my physician, whose opinion I really trust. I had to change the date of this procedure and when I called to change it the receptionist told me, “Dr. X won’t be in that day, so I’ll schedule you with Dr. Y.” 

For the most part, I’m O.K. with that. I was sent to have a procedure by my regular physician and the procedure is a commodity. The procedure will be done more or less the same way no matter which trained specialist does it. Or at least that’s what I’m assuming. I have found no positive or negative reviews of my specialist online and I don’t know anyone else who has seen this particular doctor. I don’t expect to have much of a relationship with this doctor as I’m not going to go back to see them unless I need specific follow up from the procedure. Also, they’re going to put me to sleep soon after I meet them!

I would be upset if I went to my regular doctor for an appointment and someone I didn’t know walked into the exam room, but I have no expectation for my upcoming appointment, because I’ve never met this doctor, nor have I ever been to their office.

Let’s be honest…medicine is more or less a commodity. Or at least procedure based specialty medicine is. The medical establishment as well as medical insurance companies see the procedure that I’m having is the same thing wherever it’s done. The service will be O.K., probably not great. I will receive a mystery bill some time later for an undisclosed amount which will not have been discussed with me prior to the procedure. My primary care physician will receive a report which she will discuss with me. Perhaps we’ll change my medications. I will be a cog in the machine. How I feel about the process isn’t important to the process. At all.

The procedure is a commodity. And yes, I (the patient) am a commodity.

I don’t mean to sound so bleak, but that’s been my experience with medicine. There have been a few bright spots. Certain docs or nurses that were amazing because they were amazing. Not because the system is amazing. For the most part medicine tries to get you through the process quickly and efficiently, but it’s not so worried about the experience.

Welcome to our dental family!

I’m not O.K. with that. Acceptable service isn’t good enough. As a general dentist, I feel that it’s important that I provide the best in dental care along with the very best experience possible. Most dental patients in our office see us at least twice per year, so the experience you have as a patient is really important! My goal is to develop a relationship with each patient so that we work together to keep your mouth healthy. But don’t take my word for it. Check out some reviews that our patients have left for us on Google (and leave one for us while you’re there!). Or, better yet, come experience the office for yourself. I promise you won’t feel like a commodity. You’ll feel like family…a very well taken care of member of our dental family!

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If you’re looking for a dentist in Saginaw, we’re always happy to accept new patients! You can request an appointment online or call the office at (989) 799-9133. And, as always, you can email me at alan@meadfamilydental.com. I always answer my own emails!