How to Choose a Doctor

Best Doctors
To be honest, choosing a primary care doctor is probably going to be one of if not the most important decision you make in your life.  It’s also going to be one of the most difficult if you don’t ask the right questions.  I think when most people are searching for a doctor, they tend to go about it the same way that they would if they were looking for any other kind of a service, such as finding a plumber, or the best auto mechanic – they tend to rely on sites like Yelp or Angies List, but honestly, is this going to be the best way?  I mean do you really want to search for a doctor the same way you search for any other service?  Probably not!  Hopefully not!  When it comes to asking the right questions, look down below and you will see a set list of things you want to ask yourself, your insurance company or the doctor.  When you do find a doctor it is important to ask them common medical questions about your overall health on your first visit, just to see if you and the doctor are compatible.

Checking Your Insurance

One of the best ways to find a doctor, is not to look on Yelp, but to look at your actual insurance company website.  99.9% of the time your insurance company’s website will have a list of other doctors in their network that you can use.  However, don’t just rely on this information; because of variables and changes throughout the years, sometimes the information may not be up to date and even though it says they accept you’re kind of insurance, they may not accept it now.  Always call the office and make sure they do still accept your insurance and what you will need to bring with you for your visit.  Another thing to do if you really DO like reviews, is to find acceptable doctors on your insurance website and then do some research on your own to see on various sites what sorts of experiences people have with these doctors.

Board Certifications

In the same way a trusted lawyer will have gone through the bar exam, a trusted doctor will go through a board certification.  This means that the doctor in question has earned a degree from one of the many qualified schools in the world and has completed an entire education with that school or other schools.  Board certificated doctors have gone through 4-7 years of ongoing education.  The doctor should also be accredited, licensed and insured and they have to have had passed one of the American Board of Medical Specialties exams.  Any doctor that has a certification has to continue being certified by continuing their ongoing education.  To find out of a doctor is certified you can visit a website like CertifcationMatters.org or the like.

Red Flags

It’s quite common for a doctor, especially someone that is a surgeon, to have been sued once or twice or even had a malpractice suit against them – this doesn’t necessarily mean they are a bad doctor though.  However, if you find a doctor that has had several malpractice suits against them or they have been sued multiple times, it might be a good idea to start looking for someone else.  A doctor might be sued for malpractice because they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol or worse.

Compatibility Levels

When most of the people in the US search for a doctor, they go on feelings more than anything else.  Make sure you feel comfortable with your doctor; have it be a primary medical doctor, specialist, dentist or anything else.  You want to make sure that you feel comfortable with them, that they listen to your worries, needs, wants, etc.  It’s also important to make sure that you understand your doctor in terms of language.  These days there are many doctors that come from other locations like India, Germany and France, so it’s important that you actually understand what they are saying when they speak with you.  It also might be important to you to have a doctor that is empathetic or sympathetic and will explain things to you step by step, keep you comfortable, or give you a pat on the back when you have a clean bill of health, go into remission from cancer, etc.

Office Policies

When looking at doctors, you also need to look at the office itself.  Do they allow random walk in visits, or do you have to make an appointment?  How long do they keep patients waiting in the waiting room?  Do they have the ability to make referrals for extenuating circumstances?  You also need to find out the insurance they prefer or can take, how much money visits cost, etc.