8 Tips for Choosing an ENT (Otolaryngologist)
- A Personal DecisionIf you require the care of an otolaryngologist (pronounced oh/toe/lair/in/goll/oh/jist), you may be facing a problem with your ear, nose or throat. Otherwise known as an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor, an otolaryngologist is there to guide you through many decisions about preventing or treating conditions that affect your ears, nose, throat, and related structures in your head and neck. How do you find the best ENT who is right for you? Here are some important factors to keep in mind.
- 1. Get ReferralsStart with a referral list from your primary care doctor. You can also ask family, friends and other healthcare providers for recommendations. Take the time to research the doctors’ credentials and experience on Healthgrades.com. As you narrow down your list, call each ENT’s office and ask for a consult appointment to meet and interview the doctor.
- 2. Research the ENT’s CredentialsBoard certification is one of the most important factors to consider when you are choosing an ENT. It tells you that the doctor has the necessary training, skills and experience to provide healthcare in otolaryngology. Also confirm that the ENT has no history of malpractice claims or disciplinary actions. You can find the ENT’s medical school, training hospital, certifications, and malpractice and disciplinary history on Healthgrades.com and state websites.
- 3. Consider the ENT’s ExperienceExperience matters when it comes to preventing or treating a health condition. The more experience an ENT has with a condition or procedure, the better your results are likely to be. Ask if your surgeon has completed subspecialty fellowship training related to your diagnosis. Ask how many patients with your specific condition ENT has treated. If you know you need a specific procedure, ask how many of the procedures the doctor has performed and find out about complication rates—complications the doctor has encountered as well as your own risk of complications.
- 4. Consider GenderIt’s important to feel comfortable with your ENT’s gender because you will need to openly discuss personal information. When it comes to certain types of ear, nose and throat care, your own gender is also an important consideration. ENTs are becoming more skilled in caring for women and men differently. Ask the ENT about his or her recent training and experience specifically related to your condition and your gender.
- 5.Ask About Telehealth CapabilitiesHealthcare providers can diagnose and treat some patients using telecommunications technology, including two-way video, smartphones, and email; it's called telehealth. Ask if the doctor offers telehealth capabilities. Telehealth doesn’t replace hands-on in-person office visits, but for many patients, it means fewer trips to the doctor’s office. Some conditions can be managed by sending symptoms and vital signs you collect at home and having a “virtual visit” with your provider. Telehealth can also be used for routine follow-ups and minor complaints too, making it a convenient option. Check to make sure your health insurance will pay for telehealth services.
- 6. Evaluate Communication StyleChoose an ENT with whom you are comfortable talking and who supports your information needs. When you first meet the ENT, ask a question and notice how he or she responds. Does he or she welcome your questions and answer them in ways that you can understand? Did you feel rushed or engaged? Find an ENT who shows an interest in getting to know you, who will consider your treatment preferences, and who will respect your decision-making process.
- 7. Read Patient ReviewsReading what other people have to say about a doctor can provide insight into how a doctor practices medicine, as well as how his or her medical practice is operated. Patient reviews typically reflect people's experience with scheduling appointments, wait times, office environment, and office staff friendliness. You can learn about how well patients trust the doctor, how much time he or she spends with their patients, and how well he or she answers questions.
- 8. Know What Your Insurance CoversYour 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 an otolaryngologist who participates in your plan. You should still consider credentials, experience, outcomes, and hospital quality as you select an otolaryngologist from your plan.
8 Tips for Choosing an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Doctor