Finding a doctor is difficult. Finding a doctor you like is even harder. In a recent survey, nearly a third of Americans who don’t have a primary care physician (PCP) said they didn't think they needed one. However, people who have a regular doctor receive better overall care and it’s easier for them to get an appointment on short notice. Below are six steps to help you choose a doctor that is right for you or someone in your family.
- Set your criteria ahead of time: Ask yourself a few questions about what you are looking for in a doctor. Does age or gender matter? Are you looking for a Primary Care Physician or a Specialist?
- Ask someone you trust: Reach out to your family and friends for recommendations. Surveys have shown that doctors rank “getting a recommendation from family or friends” as the most valuable way to choose a physician.
- Check your health plan coverage: Armed with recommendations from friends and family, you’re going to want to make sure the provider is in your health plan’s network because your insurance provider will cover more of the initial doctor visit costs with an in-network provider. Do your research, as many health plans even provide evaluations or rating of doctors.
- Know their credentials: Don’t limit yourself to doctors who graduated from the best school. Instead, look at where they completed their residency, which is where the job training actually occurs. Note: Academic hospitals tend to do better in terms of safety and patient outcomes.
- Call the office: You can tell a lot about how the office is run by the way the receptionist treats you. If you feel rushed and are treated poorly, this may not be the best doctor for you. If the doctor and the staff are patient and kind, this is a good sign – you know the practice treats patients with respect.
- Use your gut: Bring a few questions about your health issues to your first appointment. If the doctor allows follow-up questions, explains things well without rushing, and if you feel comfortable talking to him/her, you may have found your doctor.
How do you pick your top doc? Share your thoughts in the comments!
HumanaVitality is not an insurance product.
”How To Find The Best Doctors,” Huffington Post, February 21, 2012
“How to choose a doctor,” Consumer Reports, December 2012
“You Can Find Dr. Right, With Some Effort,” New York Times, September 30, 2008