Thursday, July 7, 2011

Thing 1 and Thing 2

I go to physical therapy for my plantar fasciitis issue. They're the same therapists I saw when I found out I had Degenerative Disk Disease. As far as physical therapists go, they're thorough, enjoyable to work with, knowledgeable and really go above and beyond in following up and chasing down physicians for me and contacting my insurance company so that I don't have to deal with that and my depressingly stupid pain. I like them. Plus, it doesn't hurt that according to United HealthCare they're the only approved, in-network PT provider for 40 miles. But perhaps they're the approved provider because they are a tiny little clinic in town, but they are part of a giant corporation of physical therapy clinics. So I'm going to call that giant -- Thing 1.

As it turns out the same time I started therapy for my back last fall, I got a new neighbor. She is the manager of another large corporation for physical therapy that has an office less than a mile from Thing 1. I've only chatted with her a few times, but she is a very nice woman. She, therefore, runs Thing 2. 

Last week, I ran into her out and about on the town. She asked how I was doing, and I mentioned that I was well and some things that were going on in my life, which included that I have plantar fasciitis. And something strange happened. My nice conversation with my neighbor suddenly felt like it was becoming her trying to sell me her skills and practice, which made me horribly uncomfortable. I'm sure she's a fine physical therapist. But really, the hard sell stuff totally turned me the wrong way. 

And now I'm scared to glance in the general direction of her house in case she wants to pop outside to offer me freebies on my foot with her Thing 2 tools and recruit me away from Thing 1. 

I know PTs aren't doctors, but they are medical practitioners. And I get scared when there are corporations like Thing 1 and Thing 2 competing down the road for patients. Rather than focusing on the patient's issue and respecting a patient's decision about choosing a practitioner, it suddenly becomes about grabbing patients from one another, and I hate it more if I suddenly feel like some kind of pawn in the stretching game, where everyone claims my foot comes first, but really it's all about them and their competition. And I will have to admit, PTs are some of the most competitive people I've ever met no matter where I've met them from (Rockford, Champaign, Alexandria, etc.)

The killer part was that when I injured my foot, I rechecked the UHC web site to see if Thing 2 was available. I thought maybe it would be a chance to get to know my urban-shy neighbor better. (Urban-shy is the name I give to folks who move here from big cities and don't wave at their neighbors or come out of their houses because they're not sure how to deal with people -- or don't want to deal with people.) Thing 2 wasn't listed as being in-network, so I called Thing 1.  

That night she kept insisting she is approved and had UHC clients and I should call the insurance agency and check and come on in to have her do her magic... But at Thing 1 -- they do that for me, don't use a hard sell and get the job done. 

So I guess I'm happy. It could be worse, right? I could have gone for the totally unapproved and super expensive Cat in the Hat (i.e. Carle). :-) That would have been way more than my $30 copay. 

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