One critical decision you need to make regarding your health care is to choose the right doctor. This can be challenging especially if you have moved to a new community. Of course, there are doctors’ websites, which give you information about a doctor, but relying completely on the online information may not be wise always. Here are few tips to find a good doctor.
1. Determine the doctor you need
It is quite surprising that there are several specialists who can treat the same symptom based on the underlying cause. For an instance, if you have back pain, you may be confused if you should consult a primary care physician, a neuro-specialist, or a rheumatologist, to evaluate the condition. The best thing you can do in case of confusion is to go to a primary care physician at first.
2. Compile a list of doctors and narrow it down
If you know which specialist to consult, then the next step you should do is to compile a list of all the doctors who are specialized in that segment, in your locality. This list can be generated either online through the doctor-finder databases.
Narrow down the list based on certain factors such as the doctor’s qualification, years of practice, patient’s reviews, languages he/she can speak and, etc. You can get this information from their blogs or through their social media (if present).
3. Watch out for red flags
Look for the malpractices or any such claims and the disciplinary actions of the doctor. Although false claims and minor deviations are unavoidable for a doctor, too many negative reviews are not good. Certainly, no one would need a doctor who mal-practices.
4. Determine the doctors “in-network”
There are health plans which negotiate doctors and hospitals to give discounts. They may be a part of your company’s insurance policies. Know the doctors “in-network” in your area so that you can get your health care at a lower pay. This narrows down your search further. Search on your insurer’s directory or on their website. It is advisable to call to the doctor and confirm if the insurance plan is still active. This is because the doctors regularly keep changing their plans.
5. Know the logistics
Know the location of the doctor’s clinic and the admitting privileges as it would be more convenient if the doctor’s office is located nearby your home or your office.
Language is equally important, as you should be able to communicate well with the doctor. Check with the languages which the doctor can speak. These days, most of the doctors are using emails and other online portals to communicate with their patients, which is useful for tech-savvy communicators for selecting their physician.
6. Ask for referrals
Ask your family members or friends or co-workers. You may take another health care professional’s suggestion, such as a pharmacist or a dentist with whom you have a good relation, for a recommendation. You may even ask a physician in your area if you are moving to another area. This makes you feel comfortable and more confident about the doctor.
7. Reach out to the doctor
Nothing can be as good as a direct meeting with a doctor. Visit the doctor if possible and talk to him/her. This first visit serves as a litmus test. Consider factors such as how attentive the doctor is, does he/she answer your questions, etc.
Ask about the medical representatives who come to visit the doctor from different pharmaceutical companies. You can know about the brands preferred by the doctor, whether they are expensive or not. Also, observe for the doctor’s attitude towards the reps. This can give you an impression of how committed the doctor is towards his/her practice.
You may evaluate the other factors such how you feel in the doctor’s office. Scrutinize the staff behaviour, how the receptionist is answering a phone call, or how you have been greeted as you walked into the office; are they timely in responding to the situations; how much in advance do you have to make an appointment with the doctor and how long do you have to wait to see the doctor even after taking an appointment.
8. Technology factor
Many doctors maintain a patient portal that provides health information; allows the patients to book their appointments and track them; check the lab results; and ask questions. Know if this information is maintained confidential and safeguarded with passwords and encryption methods.
In case you are not convinced with any of the above, you may consider changing the doctor depending on its impact on the care they provide.
Your health is broadly decided by your primary care doctor. You should choose a doctor whom you can trust and completely rely on in managing your health. Whether you live for decades or for a short time is majorly related to your health care provider. So, make a wise decision to enjoy better health.