Your doctor is your partner in ensuring the well-being and maintenance of your family’s health and bodies. It is critical that you select your physician only after you have conducted a sufficient amount of independent research to assist you in determining which doctor can best fulfill your family’s healthcare needs.
First, it is wise to gather as much unbiased information as possible about prospective physicians in your area. A good starting point in going about gathering this information is to ask family members, friends and co-workers about the care they are receiving from their doctors. Ask each person how long they have been under their respective doctor’s care and whether they have been pleased with the attention they have been given during that time. You may also want to question these people about their doctor’s bedside manner and communications skills, as healthcare consumers often say those factors rank among the most important when it comes to choosing a doctor. The American Medical Association posts an online physician directory that you may visit to assist you in your search. Also, contact hospitals and referral services for information on nearby doctors that are taking new patients. You can consult one or more of the many websites that receive and process patient feedback information. These websites can be exceptionally helpful tools when comparing doctors who appear equally desirable.
Once you have gathered and sifted through all of your research, it is a good idea to contact your insurance plan provider for information they have on their member doctors. Of course, if you have a managed care health insurance plan, selecting the right physician for you and your family is even more critical, as these plans require you to see the same primary care physician for all of your medical needs before you are given approval to visit specialists and receive other medical services. Many doctor’s offices are willing to send you informational brochures and pamphlets explaining the doctor’s qualifications, training and experience upon request.
It is a smart idea to set up an informal get-to-know sort of meeting with the two or three doctors that most interest you. Fully prepare yourself for this meeting as it is an excellent opportunity to personally ask the doctor about his/her practice and address any of your concerns and individual medical needs. Finally, if you are interested in confirming that your doctor is board certified, be sure you fully understand what “board certified” means. Contrary to popular belief, doctors do not have to be board certified in order to practice medicine. Rather, board certification is a voluntary process that some MD’s choose to engage in whereby they go far beyond what is lawfully required in order to practice medicine. So, board certified doctors have received unique training in their specialty and have exhibited a commitment to the highest standards of medical care in his/her respective area of practice.
Ultimately, establishing and maintaining a strong working relationship and sense of confidence in your doctor is perhaps most important. Whether you are choosing your first doctor or are in search of a replacement for your childhood doctor who is on the verge of retirement, be sure to invest the requisite time and effort so that you make as informed and educated a decision as possible.