From the ancient Greeks, friendship has been considered a type of love. I recently read about a doctor nearby who has completely changed his methodology for providing medical care. . The doctor in this article has changed to “Concierge care,” although I think the name “retainer-based care” is more accurate. Some of the characteristics of this doctor’s practice reminded me of the characteristics of friendship.
The doctor has changed from attempting to provide medical care to a couple thousand patients, and seeing 24 to 28 patients a day, to having several hundred patients and seeing only 25 to 30 patients a week. The Concierge patients pay $1650 a year to opt into the program while the normal insurance co pay and service charges still apply. In return they get more complete physicals, no waiting, prompt access, including direct cell phone connection.
So what does this have to do with love and friendship? I’m glad you asked that question. First of all let me say that studies have shown that having good friendships boosts both physical and mental health. But I want to look closer at the relationship aspect, as both a friendship and a doctor / patient relationship are indeed just that – relationships. I will mention three characteristics in these relationships: (1) support and empathy, (2) mutual trust and understanding, and (3) sacrifice for the other’s joy and happiness.
One of the most valuable benefits of having friends is the support that you get from your friends, which is usually a two-way street with you also providing support to them. I see that as the same as getting medical and health support from the doctor, and providing him additional monetary support for the greater access and responsiveness he provides under this retainer-based care. Most of us would say that the true emotional support and empathy we get from and give to a friend is more valuable and important than the health support we get from our medical visits. In the concierge model, however, because the doctor has fewer patients there is more of a relationship than is normally possible. But in both cases it is relative – you don’t really value the support until someone really needs it.
Other important characteristics of a friendship are mutual trust and understanding. And the trust is partially based on the honesty within the relationship. As with other characteristics of a relationship, these are truly built and increased over time. But the retainer-based doctor and his patient also depend on mutual trust and understanding flowing both directions. Again, this is made more possible by the increased amount of time the doctor has for each patient.
The third important characteristic I have identified is sacrifice. In a relationship, one party is willing to sacrifice and put the needs or wants of the other party ahead of their own. The goal of the sacrifice is to increase the joy or happiness of the other party. And again, just as friends sacrifice for each other, this doctor has sacrificed some of his personal freedom to be more accessible, and the patients have sacrificed some of their monetary resources for this benefit.
As I’ve said in the past, we all demonstrate what is truly important to us by what we spend our time and our money on. In both the friendship and the doctor / patient relationship, this is true. And I’m not just talking about some time and money, but sacrificial amounts of both time and money. How about you? Do you have some friendships that could be doctored with more support and empathy, more trust and understanding, or more sacrifice for the other?
image is thanks to http://www.inspirational-life.com/friendship-quotes.html