Choosing a new doctor can be challenging, particularly for those who have recently moved or are part of a new community. Asking for recommendations can be a good starting place, but you may also want to consider your specific needs and those of your family. Here are some factors that might play a role in your decision, plus important questions to ask before you decide on a new doctor or pediatrician.
In some cases, your insurance plan may restrict your choices of approved physicians, or it may include financial incentives for you to only use doctors affiliated with your plan. Check the terms of your plan and find out what kinds of physician visits are covered and any out-of-pocket costs you might have to cover.
Type of Physician and Qualifications
In most cases, your insurance plan will require you to choose a primary health care provider, or a doctor who manages your overall care and can make referrals to specialists when it’s required. If you have chronic or disabling conditions, you may also need a specialist who understands this condition and your needs.
You may also want to verify board certifications, which most physicians in the US have. Primary care physicians are board certified in family medicine or internal medicine, while specialists will have completed residency training in a specific field and have passed a competency exam for their specialty.
To find out if a doctor is in good standing with state licenses, you can visit the site Administrators In Medicine.
Questions to Ask
The questions you ask of a potential doctor should be based on your medical needs and priorities. Here are some examples of good questions to ask:
- • Where is the practice located, and is it easy to get there? Is it accessible by public transit? Is there adequate parking available?
- • Which hospital(s) does the doctor use?
- • Where are routine X-rays and other lab studies performed? Can these be done in-office, or is an outside lab needed?
- • How long will I have to wait for an appointment? Can I be seen on the same day for an urgent need?
- • Who covers for the physician while he or she is away? Who should I call if I have a problem after-hours?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions, call the doctor’s office. His or her staff can help you understand how the office operates and what you can expect.
Care for your child is another area that requires careful choice. Here are several questions you can ask a potential pediatrician before making your choice:
- • Where did you go to medical school, and where did you receive training?
- • How many years have you been in practice?
- • What are your views on antibiotics?
- • Which hospital are you connected to? Will you see my baby in the hospital directly after birth?
- • Will you or a nurse on the staff give advice via phone or email?
- • How many doctors are in the practice? Will my child see the same one every time?
- • Do you have separate waiting areas for healthy versus sick kids? What are waiting times like?
- • Does your office accept my insurance?
- • If my child is sick, can they be seen that same day if the office is open?
- • Do you have evening or weekend hours? What happens if my child is sick and the office is closed?
For more information on choosing a doctor, contact your healthcare provider.
My profession allows me to interact with people on a level that few other jobs would. The number one way to provide safe, effective healthcare is to educate patients and make sure I listen to and understand their story and what they want to get out of their healthcare.
“How to Choose a Doctor.” WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/health-insurance/how-to-choose-a-doctor#1
“Questions to Ask a Pediatrician Before Choosing One.” WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/pick-pediatrician-16/pick-pediatrician-dr-questions