The most common questions anyone has when moving to a new area is the request for a new doctor. Social media has become a hot spot for doctor recommendations, whether it be a person has moved into a new area, or has a pain or ailment that requires a specialist. However, while reaching out to friends and family is a key component to finding a doctor in the area for your medical needs, it is not the only part of the process, and most definitely not the first part of the process. In reality, there are four distinct steps to finding the right doctor, which will result in a perfect match for you and your physician when done together in order.
- Check Your Coverage
Your health insurance coverage should always be the first step when looking for any type of medical related answer. In the case of finding the right doctor for you, it is important to first see who is in your network of approved providers. There is no sense going to a physician who you will leave because you cannot afford to keep seeing him or her. Most health insurance provider lists offer the ability for you to look for specific qualifications, like a female gynecologist or a doctor who speaks Spanish in his office. This feature will help you narrow down your search and the resulting options prior to moving onto step 2.
- Ask Your Friends and Family
Once you have the list of approved providers that meet your needs, turn to social media, your friends, and your family. Ask for recommendations from your list of approved providers. Find out if anyone has dealt with any of the physicians on your list and then ask their thoughts. Attempt to eliminate more than one doctor from your list, leaving you with only a handful of options. Make sure you ask the questions that matter most to you, such as the potential physician’s specialties, bedside manner, and availability? Many people may also want to ask for appointment wait times and whether the staff is as friendly and competent as the doctor. One bad staff member can ruin the entire practice.
- Make a Preliminary Decision
Now that you have asked your friends and family and done your online research, it is time to make a list of the top three. This is your first, second and third choice. Should the first choice not be a good match, move onto the next, until you find the perfect fit. Now, start with your first pick and do your research. Determine how close the doctor is to your home and office. Call the office to see how the staff deals with new and existing patients over the phone. Analyze how you are treated and the ease in which the appointment is made. You may even use this time to ask pertinent questions of the provider’s office, such as the normal hours for appointments, how available the doctor may be, and what types of equipment and tests can be done in the office while you wait. Depending on the answers to the questions, you may choose to stop with this doctor or call the next on your list. Make a meet and greet appointment to get a better feel for your choice of physicians.
- Visit the Doctor
The final step in this process is to make an appointment to allow you the opportunity to meet your potential physician and see if he is a match. This is the opportunity to test his bedside manner, sense of humor, and his overall knowledge. From this meeting, you should walk away knowing whether the doctor is a good fit for you and your family. If you dread the thought of having to go back to his office, thank him for his time and call the next doctor on your list. However, if the visit goes well, make sure to add the doctor’s information to your contact list in your phone and continue with your day.
Should the physician be a family physician, it may be a great idea to bring your entire family to the meet and greet appointment. Make sure your spouse and children relate to the physician, and the physician can relate to them. Otherwise, you may find yourself repeating the process sooner than you had hoped.