Selecting the Right Doctor for You

Marcia H. Hickey Vice President, Strategic Initiatives & Hospital Administrator Hebrew Health Care, Inc.

Many of us have found ourselves in the situation of having to choose a new doctor.  Perhaps there’s been a change in our insurance carrier and we must select from a list of providers approved by the new company.  Other people have relocated and are starting from scratch with a new physician.  Some physicians even retire…how dare they!  Whatever the reason, here are a few items to consider when selecting the right doctor for you:

  • Try to get recommendations from your current physician or specialist, family, friends, and coworkers.  Ask what they like about their doctors.  Check the online rating systems that are available on the internet to see what other people say about their doctor (www.healthgrades.com or www.vitals.com.)

  • Location is important.  How easy is it to get to the office?  Is there plenty of parking?  What about access to the building?  Is it in a safe area?  If you rely on public transportation, is there a stop near the office?  Is there a pharmacy for filling prescriptions and a lab for blood tests nearby?

  • Much of your contact will be with the office staff.  Are they friendly and courteous?  Do they show concern for your needs and well being?  Are they helpful?  Do they explain things clearly?

  • Availability is essential.  What are the office hours?  Do you need evening or weekend appointments?  How long should you expect to wait for a return phone call from the doctor or nurse?  Is there someone you can call when you have medical questions but don’t need to talk to the doctor?  Is this a large practice with multiple physicians and nurse practitioners?  Who provides coverage when your doctor is away?  What hospital does the doctor refer to?  What specialists does the doctor work with?  Who will coordinate your care if you have specialists providing some of your care?

  • Perhaps the most important consideration is how comfortable you are in talking to the doctor.  Is this a person with whom you will be able to have an open and honest discussion of your medical issues?  Can you ask questions easily?  Does the doctor listen carefully to your concerns?  Does the doctor routinely use other means of communication such as email, texting or a website to communicate?

These are just a few tips to get you started selecting a doctor.  You should feel comfortable asking questions and interviewing potential physicians.  It’s your health so take the time to find the right doctor for you.

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