How To Choose The Right Doctor: What You Should Know

Selecting a primary care physician is one of the most important healthcare decisions you will make. How do you go about making such a critical choice?  Where can you go for reliable information? Here are some guidelines to help you find the right match.

First, do your homework.  If you have health insurance, your insurer is a good place to start.  Check their website for a list of participating physicians.  A quick zip code search will find those closest to you.  Or, give your insurer a call and request a provider booklet.

Consider these key factors when comparing physicians: credentials, bedside manner, availability and reputation.

Credentials

Check to see that your doctor is credentialed in your state.  A number of physician review websites are available including  www.healthgrades.com,  www.vitals.com , www.ncqa.org and www.ucomparhealthcare.com   Here you can find background information such as medical school attended,  board status and hospitals where the physician has privileges.   Visit the doctor’s website and get to know them a little better.  Do they have professional interests that resonate with you?  Is he a member of the relevant local and national medical associations?  This will give you an idea of whether this doctor stays current with healthcare advances and has a good peer network.

 

Bedside Manner

Does the doctor have a good rapport with patients?  The more comfortable you are with your doctor,  the more confident you will feel seeking help when something serious arises.   Read the reviews others have left.   Be aware of clues that the review is questionable (All the reviews are on the same day or within a small time period,  a negative review is followed by several perfect reviews, etc.)

 

Availability

Next, give the office a call.  Do they answer their phones?  Is the office staff personable and helpful?    How far out is the next available appointment?   Is medical staff available after hours?  Find out about office procedures for prescription refills.

Reputation

A doctor’s reputation combines patient experience, appropriate credentials, professional skill and peer evaluation.  Physicians who are respected in their community hold offices in professional organizations, serve as speakers and hosts at medical conferences  and have received recognition for their work.  Newspaper/magazine articles and practice websites often provide this type of information.   The more information you have, the better prepared you will be to make the right choice.

Once you have made your selection, make an appointment for a consultation.  Meet with the doctor to get one-on-one and see if there is a fit.    Does the doctor give you a thorough exam?  Does he ask in-depth questions about your health history?   What does your gut tell you?  Do you feel comfortable with their skills and knowledge?

Getting quality, affordable healthcare shouldn’t be difficult.  Put in the effort to build a strong relationship with your physician and you can reap the rewards of greater satisfaction and even better health.