3 Steps To Make Finding A New Physician Easier
Finding a new doctor is a huge hassle and something most people hate doing. It's easy to understand why. Your relationship with your doctor is going to be critical to your well-being over the coming years -- and it can be pretty hard to begin that relationship if you've picked a random name off your insurer's list of approved physicians.
Here are some strategies you can use to get better results.
1. Narrow down the location
It can be overwhelming to look at a list of all the insurance-approved providers in your area, so narrow your search based on convenience. Decide if you want a doctor that's closer to home or work, and type "find a doctor near me" into Google with the right zip code. You can check the results against the list your insurance provides and find a few doctors that are close.
Don't underestimate the advantages of convenience when it comes to picking your doctor. While it might be worthwhile to go a few extra miles for a great doctor, a trip halfway across town in heavy traffic can seem burdensome when you're sick. Or, the lack of convenience may cause you to put off routine appointments -- which can be hazardous to your health.
2. Look the doctor up online
There are a number of sites that will tell you all about the doctors you're considering. Almost all medical centers and clinics have websites these days with biographical information on their providers. You can also check their hospital affiliations, board certifications, and generally find out if their name has been in the news for any reason (good or bad).
There are also online services like "Healthgrades," which contain reviews from real patients. While even good doctors can have a bad ranking from one or two patients (it's impossible to please everybody), look for patterns that raise red flags. For example, if most of the reviews say that a doctor doesn't explain himself or herself well, that signals a major communication problem.
3. Spend some time talking to the staff
Now that you've done your research, take the plunge and make an appointment with your top choice. However, while you're making the appointment, feel out the staff. Ask about office policies. How long does it generally take to get a routine appointment? What about acute visits when you're sick? Are appointments generally on time or should you expect a wait?
If the staff is reluctant to answer, that's a bad sign. If it seems like they keep patients waiting, that's also a problem. It indicates that the doctor doesn't respect his or her patients' time. If you just generally don't like the manner the receptionist handles your call, that can be a big problem. Patients often interact with the office staff more than the doctor, so it's important to feel like you're treated with care and respect!
Finally, consider your first visit with a new doctor to be a test -- not a commitment. If it doesn't go well and your personalities don't mesh, don't go back. While it's frustrating to have to start over, doing it right away is better than wasting a year with the wrong physician! For more information, check out a website like SEARCHMED.COM.