Finding the right doctor for you can be difficult, especially if you a certain view of what kind of care you want or if you need to see a specialist. It’s important to find a doctor that you trust and that you feel you can talk to. Here are a few tips to help you find the best doctor for you and your needs.
Look In Your Network
Healthcare coverage in the U.S. can be a confusing world to navigate, but it’s important to find a physician in your network that you can go to to avoid having to pay completely out of pocket. As it is, an average of 30% of healthcare bills are directly from a patient’s pocket, but you can fall below that average by finding a doctor that will take your health insurance.
Check Their Communication Style
Not every doctor speaks with their patients in the same way — they all have slightly different “bedside manners” so to speak. You have to make sure that your doctor speaks to you in a way that you find respectful and comfortable with. Some doctors may seem to dismiss what you’re talking about or otherwise act in a way that you find disrespectful, and it’s important to find another doctor in that case. If you aren’t comfortable talking with your doctor because you think that they are dismissing you, it can be hard to get the diagnosis and treatment you may need in the future. If a doctor makes you feel belittled for expressing your symptoms or how you feel about a certain healthcare practice, they aren’t the right fit and you should keep looking for a new doctor.
How Difficult is Scheduling an Appointment?
Some doctors will be completely booked out for weeks or even months at a time. If you’re talking about a specialist, that may be an expected occurrence, but when it comes to your normal physician, it can be inconvenient to have to book appointments that far out. If you have a minor medical issue, like the flu, will you have to go to an urgent care center instead of your normal physician for treatment? Take this into consideration when you’re choosing a doctor to save yourself a lot of headaches down the road.
Ask For Recommendations
When you’re first starting the process of finding a doctor, asking your friends and family for recommendations can be extremely helpful. Though the recommendations are especially helpful if your friends or family members have similar views to you on medicine or treatment from medical workers, you can get recommendations from anyone you trust and follow up yourself. Not everyone’s recommendations will end up being good for you, but they are a good place to start looking if you’re overwhelmed by the number of options you have.
Look at Online Reviews
After you’ve asked friends and family for recommendations, it’s time to turn to a slightly less trustworthy source: the internet. Some reviews can be skewed since personal health is such a touchy subject for so many people, but overall you can start to notice trends in the reviews you find. If there’s a doctor that has only bad reviews, the odds aren’t looking good that they’ll be a good doctor for you. Make sure to take what you read with a grain of salt and trust your personal instincts though.
Location Location Location
You want to make sure that your physician is in a convenient enough location that the commute to the doctor’s office won’t be a deterrent for going. Depending on where you live and what distance you find tolerable, this can vary wildly. You should keep it in mind when you’re choosing your doctor, but realistically the range of acceptable distance to the doctor’s office is up to you and what you think is a good or bad commute.
Research Any Needed Specialists
If you’re looking for a specialist, such as an orthodontist for jaw pain or a physical therapist for a knee problem, you will have to go through a slightly different process than when you’re searching for a regular doctor. You will also have to pay attention to specific things like treatment timelines and what is and isn’t covered by your insurance. There may be a specific amount of visits to a specialist that your insurance will cover or only certain types of treatment. When it comes to braces, you can have a treatment time anywhere from 12 to 24 months, so you’ll have to make sure that your coverage extends over the course of that entire timeline. You may have a certain number of visits to a physical therapist that your insurance will cover or you may need a prescription for physical therapy for your insurance to cover it in the first place. Make sure to do your research and ask for recommendations.
Find an Urgent Care Location
Even if your doctor doesn’t have long wait times, there will be cases when you’ll have to go to an urgent care facility. It’s important to do your research before you need urgent medical attention to ensure that you find an urgent care center that can meet your needs. You can ask your new physician for recommendations for urgent care centers near you and once again look for online reviews of different facilities. In a 2016 survey, it was found that 75% of urgent care patients were fully satisfied with the care they received, and you want to make sure you’re a part of the 75% and not the other 25% of unhappy patients.
When you’re choosing a new doctor, the number one thing to keep in mind is to trust your instincts. If you don’t feel totally comfortable around a doctor that you’re seeing for the first time, there’s realistically no reason for you to come back. There are a lot of doctors out there with different approaches and personalities, which is what makes the process of finding a doctor that meets all of your needs difficult at times.
What helped you realize your doctor was the right fit? Let us know in the comments!