Picking the right doctor for you and your family is an important health decision that can have serious implications. It’s not just a question of choosing the physician with the best skills; it’s about finding somebody with whom you can forge a strong and lasting relationship. With the right doctor, you will enjoy better communication and collaboration, so that you get all the tests and treatments you need and avoid the confusion of receiving multiple, contradictory treatments from a host of specialists.
A growing number of insurance plans now stipulate that you must have one primary doctor. He or she will treat common ailments and injuries, as well as referring you to specialists when necessary and overseeing your overall care.
About the Different Kinds of Doctor
The majority of practicing physicians in the United States are board certified. Primary care physicians (your every-day doctor) may be board certified in family medicine or internal medicine, whereas specialists have gone on to complete residency training in a particular area after graduating from medical school, and they have also passed a competency examination in that area.
So how do you go about finding the doctor of your dreams? We have some useful tips for you below:
- Look for referrals
Recommendations from family, friends, and colleagues are all very well, but if you know a doctor, nurse, or health care professional, you should ask them about any local doctors or practices they would trust. Consider whether you want a family doctor, a doctor with predominantly female patients, or one with a good reputation for treating older people. The decision will rest ultimately on your specific needs and situation.
- Check your insurance plan
Your insurance plan (link to last blog – insurance 101)may limit your options to a list of approved doctors or make it financially beneficially to use plan-approved doctors, so always check the plan to make sure it covers visits to your preferred doctor. If he or she is not on the list, find out how much you will pay out-of-pocket to use them. For those who have switched employment and have to choose from different health plans offered by your employer, choose your doctor before you choose the health plan that covers visits to him or her. Even if the doctor is included in your plan, call the office to make sure that the doctor still accepts your insurance because physicians frequently opt in and out of plans.
- Look at hospital affiliation
Check where your chosen doctor has admitting privileges. Depending on your physician, you may not be sent to the hospital of your choice, if you have to be admitted.
- Check board certification
For a doctor to be certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), he or she must have earned a medical degree from a qualified medical school, finished at least three years of accredited residency training, have a license from a state medical board, and have passed at least one ABMS exam. The doctor must undergo ongoing education to keep his or her certification. You can check your prospective doctor’s certification on certificationmatters.org.
Even the best doctors can be sued, but you should avoid any candidate with a slew of malpractice claims and disciplinary actions against him or her. Disciplinary action can be sanctioned for substance abuse and inappropriate sexual behavior, although the reasons for disciplinary action are not always made public. The site Administrators In Medicine publishes details of disciplinary actions taken or criminal charges filed against doctors in a number of states.
- Consider compatibility
According to a 2014 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation survey, when choosing a physician,most Americans tend to focus on good doctor-patient interactions and doctor personality, rather than the quality of care provided or the patient’s own health outcomes. You can ascertain a great deal from your first visit: Does the doctor listen to you? Are your questions answered properly? Are you happy with the explanations provided?
It may not seem like a major issue, but things like the length of time it takes to get an appointment and time spent waiting to see the doctor can have significant long-term implications. If you have to wait more than a week for a routine visi,t or you are spending hours in the waiting room, you are less likely to attend to relatively minor conditions that can become chronic. This is where Comiere can help, allowing you to schedule appointments quickly and easily (include appropriate link).
- Screen the staff too
Your doctor is not the only person in the practice: Scrutinize the other members of staff, as these are the people who will attend to administration and insurance concerns. They should be welcoming, efficient, and courteous.
- Technology matters
If your doctor is registered with Comiere, you know he or she is up to speed on the latest technology for applications such as tracking your medical history, sharing reports with specialists, and overseeing your prescriptions. They will have a patient portal providing 24-hour access to your health information and allowing you to book doctor appointments, receive lab results, and order prescription refills. You can be sure that all your information is safe and secure with the Comiere system.
Still can’t make up your mind? Ask if you can make an appointment with your shortlisted doctor to discuss your issues. Although you may have to pay a fee, it’s worth it if it makes you more confident about your decision.