Choose The Right Doctor

July 24, 2014

Woman DoctorYour doctor is an important partner in your health care management—but choosing the right one can be daunting, especially given recommendations to seek at least two opinions for diagnosis like prostate cancer.

So where do you begin?

Start with your insurance—most people have a network they’re limited to (very limited, if you’re on the new Healthcare Act plans).

Insurance providers are starting to provide lots of useful info about providers, too. Cost, ratings, and all sorts of other factors. You can usually find this info on their website. If not, check out other rating systems as well as local databases. You can also find licenses online—confirming a specialty that meets your needs (doctors may have broad practices). It will also include whether they’ve been censored.

The next best way to find a doctor (other than your insurance company) is to get a recommendation from a friend (or if it’s a specialist you need, a recommendation from a doctor you already trust).

Ask what sorts of diseases your doctor deals with—is he used to a lot of patients with diabetes? And how about how often the perform procedures you may need? On the one hand, high volume is indicative of skill, and of being up-to-date on the procedure. On the other, you’re more likely to get that procedure shoved at you over other options.

So the next question is—will your doctor be open to second opinions? Or will they have a tantrum? (This is an actual thing doctors do, and it makes papers about once a year). What about: are they willing to work with alternative care providers like chiropractors, acupuncturists, etc.? Alternately, you should ask if the doctor has any financial relationship with drug or device manufacturers.

Then: what about the front desk? You’ll work with reception a lot. Is the office always booked up? Do they have hours during evenings and weekends? Are they friendly? Do they have an answering service if you have a middle of the night health scare?

You want a doctor who will work with you, especially if you’re more interested in pursuing natural treatments. Another thing to look for: are they more interested in patients who actively manage their health, ask questions, and form opinions? Or do they want obedient patients who get out the door quickly? The former is more likely to be open to trying natural/gentle treatments first.

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