Choosing the right doctor for your health needs is as hard as finding the perfect pair of jeans. If you can’t find one that absolutely fits, you end up settling for one that’s either too tight on the waist or too loose-fitting. It doesn’t have to be that way when choosing a doctor, though.
Your health is extremely important and you need to be picky with who you choose as your primary healthcare provider. Here’s why it’s important to have your very own go-to doctor and what you need to look for when deciding which one to visit for regular checkups, serious health issues, and what not.
Healthcare can get quite expensive so you’d want to limit the search for Dr. Right within your insurance circle. Begin the hunt by checking your insurer’s directory online for available physicians in your network.
A little savings can go a long way, so make sure to select an “in-network” general practitioner to avoid getting charged for visits, tests, and procedures that your insurance plan normally covers.
It’s also a good idea to call the office to verify that the doctor is still affiliated with your insurance provider as most physicians frequently drop and add plans. You can then build your list using this approach.
2. Consider hospital affiliation
All doctors have admitting privileges to certain hospitals. Figure out which hospitals in your area are nearest you and which among those have excellent or satisfactory ratings.
Next, find out which doctors are affiliated with your preferred hospitals and medical facilities. This will save you a lot of time and a series of unnecessary expenses in the event that you might need hospitalization.
3. Board Certification is a must
Choose a doctor that has been certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties (AMBS) and this is non-negotiable. A certification from this organization means that the physician has received a medical degree from a qualified medical school, completed three to seven years of accredited and thorough residency training, is accredited by a state medical board, and has passed at least one exam overseen by a member of the ABMS.
In addition, doctors need to maintain the certification through participating in continuing education. All these ensure that licensed doctors stay efficient and capable in delivering care.
4. Keep an eye out for red flags
By this time, you’ve already created a short list of doctors you want to consider but don’t forget to focus on the bad, even ugly side of things. See if they have a history of malpractice claims and disciplinary actions.
Now, keep in mind that great doctors can still get sued and may have been sanctioned once or twice, but not all the time. If you can find a doctor that has zero malpractice claims and no sanctions, whatsoever, good for you!
5. Consider technology in making your choice
Electronic health records (EHRs) allows your physician to access and update your medical history, collaborate with other medical practitioners, and keep an eye on all of your prescriptions.
Most EHRs also have a patient portal where you can securely access your personal health information anytime, anywhere. It also allows you to schedule doctor appointments and alerts you of future visits using a reminder feature. You can also use the portal to get real-time lab results, ask for prescription refills, and easily e-mail your doctor for questions that you might have about your health
6. Imagine it as a long term relationship
It’s time to test the waters. Schedule an appointment with 3 or 4 doctors that’s on your short list so you can get a feel of how each visit would play out and whether or not it works for you.
You would want to go for a doctor that makes you feel comfortable. Someone that makes every visit feel almost like a weekday brunch with a friend or just a casual talk with a family member. Factor in how the staff or nurses treat existing patients and first time visitors like you.
Is his or her way of seeing patients match with what you’re looking for? Is the doctor making an effort to get to know you? Does he or she listen attentively without interrupting? Does the doctor deliver instructions clearly? Does he or she schedule you for follow up care?
7. Find out about medical representatives
A lot of doctors let med reps into their offices. Not only do they take up a lot of the physician’s time but they may influence his drug choices. During your visit, ask the doctor whether or not he prescribes generic drugs, if not, affordable variations. If you mistakenly choose a doctor that recommends medications you can’t afford, the whole search can go to waste.
8. Check the clinic’s policies & procedure
Find out how long it takes to schedule an appointment and what the process is. Choose an office that has the shortest wait time for its patients. It’s important to spend the least time waiting for your appointment and the most time talking with your doctor. After all, you’re health plan is meant to pay for care and health services delivered to you and not for the waiting period.
Marie Miguel is an avid internet researcher and she likes to write about a lot of topics namely, social media marketing, healthcare and business. She has a college degree in Communication with Specialization in Integrated Marketing Communication. She has more than 10 years work experience in various fields namely, social media marketing, as well as, research for fast-moving consumer goods. Currently, she is working as a Marketing Associate in the fast growing industry of solar energy. In her free time, she writes content for different websites and blogs, so that she can share her knowledge of her field and of other topics that she is interested in. Marie also likes to travel and her adventures allow her to have a broader world view. Finally, she has four kids, who inspire her with her work and her writing.