How to Choose the Right Doctor
Finding the right doctor is essential for both your physical and mental health. Your doctor should know everything there is to know about you, and you should know enough about your doctor to trust them.
According to a study published in the International Journal of Health Services, forming a relationship with an exemplary primary care physician can decrease your risk of dying from strokes, heart disease, and cancer.
They know the nuances of your medical conditions, your mental state, how you react to medications, and your preferences. They’re able to tailor treatments specifically to you because they know you.
Now that you’re convinced that you need a good primary care physician, you might be thinking about how to choose a doctor that will fulfill this role in your life.
Don’t worry! All you’ve got to do is read this article!
Step 1: Gather Information
The first step in our guide on how to choose a doctor is to look around and find some viable options. Ask your family and friends for recommendations. Ask them to tell you why they like their doctor and what problems they faced. Talking to people you trust will help you get reliable information on who the best practitioners are in your area.
That being said, you are not like your cousin or your best friend. Just because a physician was perfect for them doesn’t mean they’ll be great for you too. The decision can’t be made yet.
One of the most important and overlooked factors when choosing a doctor is their location. Think about when you’re down with a bad case of diarrhea or fever; you don’t want to be traveling far to visit your doctor. You’ll also be more encouraged to go for regular checkups if your doctor is located at a convenient distance.
Step 2: Do They Match Your Coverage?
Another important factor when trying to find the right doctor is checking if they match your insurance coverage. Some practitioners may not work with your health plan.
It’s usually much cheaper to choose doctors from a list of your insurance plan’s network. Some insurance plans allow you to work with a doctor outside of the network if you pay a larger portion of the cost.
An easy step you can take is to call your insurance company and ask them for a list of doctors near your home who accept your healthcare plan. You can now cross-check your list and the insurance network list for targets that match your coverage. Don’t hesitate to shortlist any potential doctors you find on the insurance network list that you hadn’t seen before.
Call the doctors’ offices and confirm that they accept your health plan.
Step 3: Research on Quality
Now you’ve got a list of doctors who are willing to accept your insurance plan and are near your home. The next step in our guide on how to choose a doctor is to check if they’re good enough to be your primary physician.
You wouldn’t give your car to a mechanic without finding out their skills, background, and experience. It should be the same for a doctor.
Almost every doctor in the US is board-certified, but it pays to check. You can use the Certification Matters site to confirm that the doctor you’re looking at has passed the state’s licensing requirements and all their relevant exams in medicine.
Do some online research. Look for reviews from patients and don’t just look at the numbers they receive out of 5. Read the reviews and see what people have to say. You can find out a lot about doctors by reading what patients have to say online.
Check your doctor’s level of experience, where they went to medical school, and whether they’re up-to-date with the latest research and practices. Make sure to check that they have a clean record, free of malpractice.
Eliminate any options that don’t meet your quality criteria.
Step 4: Make Some Calls
Call the potential doctors’ offices on your list and analyze how they respond to you. Do they make you feel comfortable? Ask them if they’re taking new patients and whether the doctor is part of a group practice.
Also, ask about evening and weekend appointments and how long it typically takes to get an appointment.
Ask any questions that come to your mind and see how they respond to you. If they’re rude and discourteous, scratch them off the list.
Step 5: Try to Find Your Match
You’re going to have your own criteria on how to choose a doctor. Some people are more comfortable with a female doctor. While gender plays no role in the level of medical expertise a practitioner has, it can play a role in your communication.
Patients also often look for doctors who are younger than them because there is a greater chance that their doctor will outlive them and will be present throughout their lives.
It’s also understandable to want a doctor that matches your native culture and language. Language is important for communication, so you may want to find a doctor that speaks your native tongue well. Additionally, culture has a huge impact on behaviors, and cultural differences can lead to unintended offense from either side.
Final Step: Follow Your Gut
The final step involves scheduling appointments with the few doctors left on your shortlist. You’ll often know whether the doctor is right for you or not after the first visit.
The key is to follow your instincts. How did you feel after the visit? Did your doctor listen to you and understand you? Did they spend enough time with you and let you ask questions? Go with the option that made you feel most comfortable.
Now that you know how to choose a doctor, get your notepad out and start researching!