Choosing a doctor is one of the most important and personal decisions you make. Your doctor is your partner in health and is there to guide you through many decisions about protecting your health, staying healthy, and coping with illness.
While a good doctor-patient relationship develops with time and is built on trust, you can ensure a good start but taking the time to find the best doctor who is right for you or a family member.
Start by creating a list of potential doctors. Ask family, friends, and other healthcare providers for recommendations. If you have a medical condition that requires specialty care, ask your primary care doctor to refer you to doctors who can work closely with your primary care doctor to coordinate your care.
With list in hand, take the time to do your research. Call each doctor’s office to see if he or she is accepting new patients. If so, ask for an appointment to meet and interview the doctor. Explain to the receptionist that you’d like a consult.
Consider the following when finding the best doctor for you:
- Doctor’s Credentials. Board certification is one of the most important factors to consider; it tells you that the doctor has the needed training, skills and experience to provide healthcare in their specific field. Also confirm that the doctor has no history of malpractice claims or disciplinary actions.
- Doctor’s Experience. When you’re facing health issues, experience matters. The more experience a doctor has with a condition or procedure, the better your results are likely to be.
- Gender. It is important for you to feel comfortable with your doctor’s gender because you will need to openly discuss personal information. And don’t hesitate to ask a doctor about his or her recent training and experience specifically related to your condition and your gender.
- Hospital Quality. Consider the quality of care at the hospital where the doctor can treat patients. Quality matters to you because patients at top-rated hospitals have fewer complications and better survival rates.
- Communication Style. Choose a doctor with whom you are comfortable talking and who supports your information needs.
- What Your Insurance Covers. Your insurance coverage is a practical matter. To receive the most insurance benefits and pay the least out-of-pocket for your care, you may need to choose a doctor who participates in your plan.
Your goal is finding the best doctor who suits your needs. You want to get the best care from someone you can trust and who puts you at ease.