Regardless of the type of doctor you need, you should never take the decision process lightly. Assuming you live in a populated area, you likely have anywhere from a handful of choices to dozens of alternatives. Knowing how to choose the right one will ensure you get the best medical treatment possible when you’re sick or injured. On the other hand, hastily accepting the first doctor you run across could diminish your chances of receiving quality care.
Tips for Choosing a Doctor
Whether you’re trying to compare the differences between two different medical facilities, looking to learn more about the strange symptoms you’ve been having, or want to know more about a doctor, it’s always best to educate yourself on how to proceed. While every patient is unique, these are some general tips that should help you in your quest for an experienced, honest, and reliable doctor:
Start with insurance. Your insurance provider will have a directory on its website explaining which doctors are in your covered network. While you’re not technically restricted to just these doctors, you are required to use the services of a participating doctor if you want your insurance provider to cover you. It’s also a good idea to double check with any doctor you’re interested in to make sure they still accept your insurance plan, as doctors frequently add and drop plans.
Admitting privileges. Next, find out where the doctor has admitting privileges. This will dictate where you’re able to receive medical care and may sway your opinion in one direction or the other. For example, if the doctor only admits patients to a hospital with a poor rating, you’ll probably want to look elsewhere.
Specialization. Do you have any particular medical issues or ongoing conditions? Most doctors specialize in certain areas of health care and you should do your best to find one that aligns with your medical history and current needs. It’s also worth asking about their connections and whether they have access to other specialized practitioner.
Educational background. Where a doctor went to medical school and received their education can tell you a lot. Does their school rank well on U.S. News ranking of top medical programs? While this isn’t the only metric you should look at, it does give you a look at how they rank compared to their peers.
Accessibility. Do you need a doctor that’s readily accessible around the clock? If so, you should ask questions regarding how the doctor handles phone calls and communications. Some doctors will speak with patients around the clock, while others only do so during work hours. You need to know how reliable the doctor is and whether they can be reached in a time of need.
Patient testimonials. There are hundreds of online resources designed to help patients learn more about doctors. Many collect reviews and testimonials from former patients and allow you to read about the opinions of others. These can be great tools for further investigation and often provide honest analyses.
Comfort level. In the end, it all comes down to your overall comfort level. Do you trust the doctor and do you believe they offer the best care you can afford?
Making a Decision
By utilizing these tips and more, you should be able to make an educated decision. However, it’s important to remember that you’re always free to change down the road. If you ever begin using a doctor and come to realize that he or she is not what you expected, politely request to switch. As a patient, you have the right to receive high quality, reliable medical care that allows you to live a healthy, prosperous life.