Why are frequent follow-ups important?

Can’t we see our doctors once a year and expect success?

Dr. Houtan takes patient's temperature

This is a topic that comes up more times than I’d like.

There are a few reasons why patients don’t understand the benefits of regular follow-ups. One of the key reasons is that the insurance-based/pharmaceutical-based allopathic model of medicine has gotten patients into a terrible habit. Think about it: what happens when you see your regular doctor? It may take months from the time you scheduled your appointment to be seen by the physician, then when it comes time for your appointment you may sit in the waiting room for an extended period. Finally, the doctor comes in, reads the notes that the nurse left, prescribes a drug, and says you don’t need to be seen for 6-12 months. The time spent with your doctor often amounts to around 15 minutes, which I would argue isn’t enough time to thoroughly discuss your health.

This is what we’ve grown accustomed to for far too long. Rushed appointments which may include unnecessary prescriptions, lack discussions about lifestyle and diet, and ultimately are capped off with the dubious advice that you don’t need to be seen for a year. No wonder patients are confused!

If you take the time to unlearn this backwards way of providing healthcare to the population, you’ll see that it’s inherently flawed in almost every way. You’ll see that the naturopathic/holistic approach is far more effective for helping patients lead long, healthful lives. I believe it’s this flawed model of care that prevents patients from understanding the relevance of regular follow-ups, so allow me to explain the benefits of consistent follow-ups.

What I do is intended to heal the body. First and foremost, healing takes time! A condition that takes decades to develop due to an endless multitude of factors simply will not reverse itself with the advent of a drug (or a supplement, for that matter!). Healing requires education, self-discovery, consistency, and an evolving set of remedies to address every aspect of proper healing over time.

I focus a lot on fertility in my practice, so we can start there. Let’s use the example of a 30-year-old female who presents to my office because she’s having difficulty conceiving a child with her male partner (we are assuming here that his sperm are healthy). We discover during our intake that she had been on a birth control pill since the age of 14 for her heavy menstrual cramps, and only stopped taking the pill a couple years ago. Since then, she’s experienced the same pain she had as a teenager, including acne, heavy menstrual bleeding, mood concerns, digestive maladies, etc. The list here could go on and on. The point is that she was given a drug at age 14, a drug that masked her symptoms while all the while her physiology was becoming more and more untuned under the surface, until she finds herself in my office. No one followed up with her regularly, no one tried to teach her why she might have painful menstrual cramps, and no one asked her about her lifestyle, diet, or stressors.

Can we reasonably expect that I can help reverse this patient’s untunement and make her perfectly fertile in one visit, even if I throw 10 different supplements at her? The answer is emphatically ‘no’. I can’t even do that in 3 visits. This patient needs an evolving set of remedies and discussions over the course of many months, that will match her level of intent and capacity, until we’ve slowly but surely supported her physiology in being able to heal. Some bodies heal quickly, some heal more slowly. Some patients must be convinced to let go of obstacles (physical, behavioral, emotional) that prevent the body from healing.

My key point: For care to succeed, it must be diligent, consistent, and highly individualized, supported by thorough patient education, open communication, and a collaborative partnership between patient and doctor. You and your body deserve the time and dedication it takes to heal.

Disclaimer: *Remember that none of this is medical advice. This blog post is intended for educational and editorial purposes only. Always discuss with your own doctor any changes that may affect your health.*

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