Finding the Dr. Right For Your Healthcare Needs
There is probably nothing more important than finding the right doctor for your healthcare. It is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. This decision will affect your future health and the doctor must be someone you are comfortable sharing your most intimate secrets and the details of your health and well-being. This article will focus on a step-by-step approach to finding a physician that will care for your medical needs.
Not too long ago, most of us were able to visit any physician we chose at any time. However, with the arrival of managed care health plans, some of our choices are limited. Before you select your health insurance, choose a doctor you trust. After all, your health plan won't diagnose or treat you - your doctor will.
The best time to choose a doctor is when you don't need one. Don't wait until you are faced with an illness or emergency to begin looking for a doctor. This only adds stress to the decision-making process and increases the chances of making the wrong choice.
Start the process by asking around. Ask your friends and family who they use and if they are they happy with their doctor. Ask people who work in hospitals and especially in emergency rooms about physicians you are considering. Another resource is other healthcare professionals such as chiropractors, podiatrists, anesthesiologists, and nurses. These professionals know about the good doctors and often have experience working with them and can make an introduction on your behalf.
A number of other sources can further broaden your search. The Orleans Parish Medical Society, Louisiana State Medical Society, or national medical societies such as the American Medical Association may be helpful in finding a physician who meets your needs and lives in your community or near where you work. Many may have phone referral or information centers, and many have Internet information sites.
Begin by asking yourself what criteria are most important for your physician. Do you want a young, middle age, or senior physician? Do you want a male or female? Do you want a physician that speaks your native language such as Spanish or Vietnamese?
Next consider background of the physician you are considering. For example, if you have diabetes, you will be looking for a physician that has an interest or expertise in caring for diabetic patients and the unique health care problems of the diabetic population. For some patients, it is also important to choose a physician whose philosophy of care is in keeping with their own. In other words, if you are interested in wellness and staying out of the doctor’s office, you may look for a doctor who believes in nutrition, vitamins, and practicing healthy life styles.
Next on your list will be the size of the group and the location of the medical practice. Choose the setting where you feel most comfortable, whether it is a large medical practice that offers a variety of doctors, a smaller practice or a solo practitioner's office. If you choose a large group practice, you may find that you will be cared for several physicians and may not have the same physician each time you make an appointment.
If it is easier for you to see the doctor on your lunch hour than after work, look for a medical practice close to your job. The location and office hours should be convenient and accessible so you can easily make and keep your appointments.
Final suggestions. Find a few physicians that make up your short list. Call the doctor and make an appointment and interview the doctor. Have questions written out that you would like him\her to answer. Ask how long it would usually take to make a routine appointment, an urgent appointment, and if you could be seen on an emergency basis the same day that you called.
Bottom Line: The doctor-patient relationship involves something that we value most, our health. This relationship has always been a sacred bond of trust, openness, and compassion and therefore remains one of the most important decisions we make. Spend as much time on this decision as the next car you buy or vacation you take.
Reprinted with permission from Neil Baum MD, neilbaum.com.
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