Tips for finding a physician you can trust.
Maybe you moved to a new town, had a bad experience with your current doctor, or need the expertise of a specialist. Whatever the reason, you’re in the market for a new doctor and don’t know where to find one. You realize there are dozens or even hundreds to choose from, so how do you find the right fit? You want a doctor who listens without seeming in a rush, someone who genuinely cares about your situation, and a physician you can trust to manage your healthcare.
As you begin your search, here are a few ways to narrow down your options.
The first step in finding a doctor is to check your insurance plan. You need a physician that’s “in-network,” meaning one that accepts your insurance.
Otherwise you’ll be charged higher fees or required to pay for the entire office visit out of pocket. Call your insurance provider or find a doctor directory on your insurance website to figure out what physicians are in your network. Because practices often add or drop insurance plans, it’s a smart idea to double-check with the office regarding your insurance before making an appointment.
One of the best ways to find a doctor you can trust is to ask friends for recommendations. Check with your co-workers, neighbors, or even your social media friends for referrals. Find out what they like or don’t like about their physicians. And don’t be afraid to ask specific questions, as most people are willing to share their experience. Their advice will help you decide whether you want to pursue a particular doctor or not.
If you’re moving to a new town or need a specialist, ask your primary care physician for a recommendation.
Take Logistics into Account
Are you looking for a doctor who’s convenient to your home or office or are you okay traveling an extra distance to find the right one? You may also want to consider the doctor’s office hours. Do you need a practice that offers weekend or evening appointments? If language is a factor for you, make sure the doctor is able to communicate in a language you understand.
In some instances, time may be a deciding factor for you. Is the doctor able to see you in a reasonable amount of time or will you have to wait weeks or months to get an appointment? What is the average wait time in the waiting room? Waiting 15 to 30 minutes is understandable, but can you afford to wait an hour?
You may also have a strong preference regarding which hospital you want to receive treatment. In this case you should check to see which hospital your doctor is affiliated with.
Or maybe technology is a deciding factor for you. Some doctors provide a patient portal that allows you access to your health information and lab results and let’s you set appointments, order prescription refills, or ask questions. If this is important, make sure such options are available before signing up with a new physician.
To help ensure quality care, look for a doctor who is board certified. This certification shows that a physician graduated from a reputable medical school, completed residency training, is licensed by the state, passed exams, and pursues continuing education.
See for Yourself
The relationship you have with your primary care physician, pediatrician, or (in some cases) a specialist may last for years. A face-to-face meeting or phone conversation may help you find someone you are compatible with. You want a doctor whose personality you like, you feel comfortable with, and you can trust. Use this initial interview to ask questions about the physician’s medical philosophy and methods of treatment. Then make the decision you feel is best for you.