Doctors are important partners in your health care, and choosing a medical professional who understands your needs could make a positive difference in your treatment. This guide will help you learn about aspects to consider as you select a new doctor. It will also help you understand how to search for physicians in your area.
What to Look For
As you begin your search for a health care provider, you need to decide whether you’re looking for a primary care physician to look after your general well-being or you need a doctor who specializes in a particular medical field. For routine health care such as annual physical examinations, vaccinations and initial diagnostic tests, you will want to select a primary care provider. These clinicians typically practice in the fields of family medicine and internal medicine. If you need a specialist, you might require a referral from your primary care doctor. Cardiology (heart care), endocrinology (diabetes care), nephrology (kidney care), and oncology (cancer care) are a few of the medical specialties that you may wish to investigate.
Word of Mouth
Word of mouth can often be beneficial in finding a new physician. Your primary care provider may be able to recommend other health care providers in your area, and you can also ask for recommendations from family and friends. If you have any medical professionals in your family, be sure to get their recommendations as well. It can help to ask others about the doctor’s bedside manner and attention to detail. You might also want to ask about how long it takes to get an appointment and what the typical wait time is before you actually see the doctor.
You may want to consider searching online when selecting a new clinician. You could use major search engines like Google to find reviews for area doctors, and you might also want to check sites that are specifically designed for finding medical care. As far as review sites go, Doctor.com has become very important to both doctors and patients in recent years. The site provides credible reviews and allows patients to book online appointments at their chosen practice. Checking a doctor’s webpage can also give you insight into the philosophies and values of a particular practice, and you can find practical information such as new patient forms and insurance coverage options as well.
Call or Visit the Office
Calling or visiting the office of a doctor you’re considering allows you to get a better idea of whether the practice could be a good fit for your needs. You may want to drive by the office to verify the accuracy of online information and check that the premises appear clean. If you can, speak to the receptionist to ask about the appointment policies and whether your insurance would be accepted. You might even want to ask about meeting the nursing staff informally as well. Try to do this at several practices so that you are able to make a comparison among different providers. This is especially important if you are looking for a specialist or seeking a second opinion for a particular medical issue.
Check Your Insurance Coverage
Before you choose a new doctor, you’ll need to check your insurance coverage. To do so, go to your insurance provider’s webpage and search for a list of in-network providers. If the doctor you choose is not on this list, they will be considered an out-of-network provider, and you will need to pay more for appointments. Depending on your health and the type of doctor you’re seeking, you might want to limit your search to a list of in-network providers. You may wish to call your insurance company directly to check that the in-network listings on the website are still accurate. The doctors’ office personnel can also talk you through which insurance policies they accept.
Make an Initial Appointment
Making an initial appointment enables you to meet the doctor and see their bedside manner and skills in action. Generally, it’s best to make the appointment for a routine checkup. Ensure that the doctor takes a complete health history before beginning an examination, and check to see how thorough they are when examining you. Does the doctor seem rushed? Is this physician a good listener? Choosing a doctor with whom you feel comfortable is particularly important. You may want to ask the clinician questions about their opinion of your overall health as well as about their training, experience and expertise. The answers to these questions will help you understand whether this doctor is easy to work with and able to explain issues in a way that’s understandable to you.
By following the tips in this guide, you’ll be able to make an informed decision when selecting your new health care team. Always ask questions if you’re unsure of something, and do research in person and online to get detailed insight into what a particular doctor can offer.
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