8 Tips for Choosing a Doctor

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Carol Dawson Fehringer, MTC on February 4, 2022

Your doctor is your partner in health. You will depend on your doctor’s knowledge and expertise when staying healthy through routine checkups, when coping with an illness, or when hospitalized. How do you find the best doctor who is right for you? Here are important factors to keep in mind.

  • 8 Things to Consider When Choosing a Doctor
    1. Get Referrals
    Start by creating a list of potential doctors. Ask family, friends, and other healthcare providers for recommendations. And check your insurance plan for participating doctors. Then, take the time to research the doctors’ credentials and experience on Healthgrades.com. As you narrow down your list, call each doctor’s office and ask for a consult appointment to meet and interview the doctor.
  •  8 Things to Consider When Choosing a Doctor
    2. Research the Doctor’s Credentials
    Board certification is one of the most important factors to consider when you are choosing a doctor. Board certification tells you that a doctor has the necessary training, skills and experience to provide healthcare in their specific field. It is also important to confirm that the doctor has no history of malpractice claims or disciplinary actions. You can find the doctor’s medical school, training hospital, certifications, and malpractice and disciplinary history on Healthgrades physician profiles and state websites.
  • 8 Things to Consider When Choosing a Doctor
    3. Consider the Doctor’s Experience
    Experience matters when you’re facing health issues. The more experience a doctor has with a condition or procedure, the better your results are likely to be. Ask how many patients with your specific condition the doctor 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. Healthgrades physician profiles enable you to view a doctor's treatment frequency by condition and procedure relative to their peers. This information can help you pick a doctor with the experience you need.
  • Hospital
    4. Research Hospital Quality
    Doctors have admitting privileges at certain hospitals, which means that your doctor’s hospital is your hospital, too. Even if you’re young and healthy, it’s important to research the hospitals at which your doctor can treat you if you become ill. Healthgrades physician profiles include hospital patient experience ratings and quality awards for their affiliated hospitals so you can find a high-quality doctor who will treat you at a high-quality hospital. You can also use Healthgrades America’s Best Hospitals ratings to see the top hospitals near you and their respective ratings by specialty.

  • Doctor and Nurse looking forward
    5. Consider Gender and Convenience
    It is important for you to feel comfortable with your doctor because you will need to openly discuss personal information. Don’t hesitate to ask a doctor about their recent training and experience specifically related to your condition and your gender. Because gender matters in some types of care, doctors are becoming more specialized in caring for women and men differently. Also consider convenience: is finding a doctor who offers virtual appointments important to you? While Telehealth doesn’t replace hands-on visits, it can be a convenient alternative for symptom management and routine follow-ups. Use Healthgrades to filter your search by gender and telehealth capability so you can find a doctor with whom you feel comfortable.
  • 8 Things to Consider When Choosing a Doctor
    6. Evaluate Communication Style
    Choose a doctor with whom you are comfortable talking and who supports your information needs. When you first meet the doctor, ask a question and notice how they respond. Do they welcome your questions and answer them in ways that you can understand? After your visit did you feel rushed or engaged? Check your doctor's profile on Healthgrades to see how other patients felt about their communication style so you can find a doctor who will consider your treatment preferences and respect your decision-making process.
  • 8 Things to Consider When Choosing a Doctor
    7. Read Patient Reviews
    Reading what other people have to say about a doctor can provide insight into how a doctor practices medicine, as well as how their medical practice is operated. Healthgrades offers patient reviews based on factors that typically reflect people's experience, such as scheduling appointments, wait times, office environment, and office friendliness. You can learn how well patients trust the doctor, how much time they spend with their patients, and how well they answer questions.
  • 8 Things to Consider When Choosing a Doctor
    8. Know 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. You should still consider credentials, experience, outcomes, and affiliated hospital quality as you select a doctor from your plan. As you weigh your options, you can use Healthgrades physician profiles to see which doctors are in and out of your network. Once you’re ready to make an appointment, call the doctor’s office to confirm their coverage so you’re aware of the costs upfront.
8 Tips for Choosing a Doctor
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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2015 Jul 16
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.