Are you looking for a doctor or considering switching from your current doctor? The process can be stressful and overwhelming, especially if you are a senior citizen who is already struggling with medical conditions.
The relationship between doctor and patient should be one of collaboration and mutual respect. You need to find a doctor with whom you feel comfortable, but the process can feel like finding a needle in a hay stack. With countless considerations, like: distance from your home, medical insurance coverage, the doctor’s area of specialty, the office staff, and more - the experience can seem daunting.
You never want to compromise with your health, but how are you supposed to find the right doctor for you? The following are some tips to help with the process of finding a great new doctor.
Know What You Want - the first, and possibly most important, step is to clarify what you are looking for in a doctor. Though doctors are highly educated and knowledgeable, they are there to serve you. Finding a doctor who will listen to you and value your opinions about your own health is crucial to building a lasting relationship. No one can know you or you needs better than you - and you’ll want to find a doctor who understands this. You’ll want to develop your own list of qualities you’d like your doctor to have, but here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Language options
- Area of specialty
- Level of education
- Openness to alternative medicine
- Experience with patients similar to you
- Bedside manner
- A respectful communicator
Create a List of Possible Doctors - After determining what you are looking for in a doctor, it is time to create a list of candidates. The restrictions of your insurance coverage will most likely limit your choices. The following tips can help you narrow down the field of options:
- Ask friends or neighbors about their doctors. While a friend liking a specific doctor doesn’t ensure that you will also be a good match, personal referrals are still the best way to find a new doctor.
- Your insurance company should provide you with a list of covered doctors in your area. This list often includes information about the doctors, like their location, education level, board certifications, and areas of specialty.
- The Internet is a great resource for researching doctors. Most doctors are listed on multiple registries, official medical websites (like www.medicare.gov), and a slew of independent review sites. By simply typing a physician’s name into your search engine, you are likely to find helpful reviews by former and current patients.
Meet with Your Candidates - Don’t be afraid to make an appointment with the doctor whom you are considering. While you will most likely be charged for the appointment, it is useful to have time to ask your potential physician questions about the care they will provide you. There is nothing wrong deciding that you are not a great match with a specific doctor. Don’t worry about hurting the doctor’s feelings by switching to another doctor. Doctors understand the importance of rapport between patient and physician and anticipate that they will not be a match for all patients.
Communication is Key - After making your choice, the last step is to maintain open and honest communication with your new doctor. Great medical care is a two way street between physician and patient, and you have to do your part. Continue to express your needs and concerns, and if things aren’t working, let your doctor know!