All of us need to see a doctor from time to time. Most of the time we just resort to DIY and home remedies, dealing with common injuries by ourselves, “but the time you do spend with a doctor is especially important as it will have an effect on your future health,” says Logic Inbound. So while choosing the right doctor might not seem like a big deal, it actually is once you realize what you actually have to look for.
If you’ve moved to a new home or switched jobs, there might not be many people who you can ask for recommendations. But don’t let that be a challenge. Selecting the right doctor is a process and one which you can easily learn.
In this post we’re going to discuss some of the major things to look out for selecting the right doctor.
Ask Around, but Be Cautious
Asking your friends and family can be a great first step in your search for Dr. Right. Pay attention to recommendations from people you trust, as it’s likely going to lead you to a skilled physician.
However, keep in mind that the person making the recommendation is not you. That is to say, your medical conditions are probably going to be different. So just because a doctor is perfect for your friend or coworker, doesn’t mean that they’re right for you.
Paying for medical bills out of your pocket can be steep, so you need to be mindful of your insurance plan restrictions. Some plans restrict you to a group of plan-approved doctors, while some offer financial incentives for choosing a plan-affiliate doctor.
If you have Medicare, be sure to call the doctor’s office and see if they accept Medicare patients. Your insurance plan might charge you more if you see a doctor outside the network, while some might require you to foot the whole bill. This is why it’s impertinent to check your insurance plan and see what kind of coverage it offers.
Even if you think you’ve found Dr. Right, if they aren’t covered by your health plan, they’re probably not the best for you.
Specialists vs Primary Care Doctors
Most health plans provide coverage for primary care doctors. Primary care doctors are the ones you go to for normal illnesses such as the flu. However, you might have a chronic condition and for that you’ll have to consult a specialist doctor.
However, don’t go and choose a specialist on your own. Your primary care doctor should be capable enough to diagnose the underlying issues of your conditions and then refer you to a specialist. Also worth noting is that different specialists might be able to treat your specific set of symptoms.
This is why it’s important to have your primary care doctor make the recommendation for a specialist. Even more importantly, you’ll need to revisit your health plan and see what kind of specialists are covered. Start by checking with your insurer on specialist coverage and asking them about the costs associated with the specialist treatment you require.
Chances are, your health plan will not cover all the costs associated with specialist treatment. To calculate what you’ll be paying out of your own pocket, consult your insurer’s cost-estimating tools.
It is absolutely important to do a thorough background check of your doctor. Try to find people who have similar medical histories as you who’ve been treated by the same doctor. Remember, a doctor cannot be perfect, and might have their weaknesses and strengths depending upon specific ailments. If you have a medical condition that is considered difficult to treat, this step becomes even more important.
Also, be sure to check whether the doctor is board-certified through the Certification Matters portal, maintained by the American Board of Medical Specialties. Doctors who are board-certified have undergone rigorous testing through comprehensive exams in internal medicine.
The doctor you choose should be located somewhere convenient for you. If you fall ill suddenly and have to visit the doctor, the last thing you want to be worried about is the prospect of a long drive. You definitely don’t want to travel very far if you’re feeling unwell, it’s dangerous!
Furthermore, if your doctor is conveniently located, you’re much more likely to go for routine checkups and appointments.
Every person is different, so the doctor who’s worked great for your friend might not be a match for you. Make sure that your doctor speaks your language so there is absolutely no room for miscommunication, as well as ensuring that they’re sensitive to your cultural and religious convictions. A mismatch here can lead to a lot more than uncomfortable moments.
There are instances too that you might not like how their clinic works or how traditional their approach it compared to those who are embracing future digitization and are using modern facilities.
It’s also a good idea to cold call the doctor’s office and check how their staff responds. If they’re not very happy to get a call or can’t find an appointment at a suitable date, it’s better to look elsewhere. If you’re lucky enough to get an appointment, prepare a list of questions about you and your medical history.
Feel free to ask as many questions as you want and check how the doctor responds to them. If they’re indifferent to your concerns or aren’t taking you seriously, it might not be a good fit after all. And after the initial meeting, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I feel at ease with this doctor?
- Did they give me enough time to ask questions?
- Were they receptive to my questions and concerns?
- Were they able to communicate effectively?
If you feel uneasy about any of the above questions, look for a new doctor. You should be comfortable with your doctor, as you’ll be sharing a deeply personal part of your life with them in the future.