Choosing a doctor is one of the most important health decisions you’ll make. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find reliable, easy-to-understand information about specific doctors or practices. In this article “How To Find A Good Doctor” you’ll learn some great tips on how to make it easier.
Research shows that people who have a good relationship with a doctor not only report greater satisfaction with their care but also are in better health.
Good communication and collaboration with the doctor can help make sure you get the tests and treatments you need so that you can get better faster.
Let’s find a good Doctor!
You should also consider what kind of doctor you need. That matters because you have to look at what your insurance allows. If you are looking for a primary care doctor all you have asked is if that doctor takes your insurance. If you are looking for a specialist, you first have to find out if your insurance requires you to get a referral to go to a specialist.
- Check your insurance: Use your insurer’s directory or search on its website for doctors in your network. Doctors often add or drop insurance plans.
- Hospital affiliation: Your doctor can determine which hospital you go to, find out where the doctor has admitting privileges.
- Look for board certification: Being certified through the American Board of Medical Specialties means a doctor has earned a medical degree from a qualified medical school, completed three to seven years of accredited residency training, is licensed by a state medical board, and has passed one or more exams administered by a member of the ABMS. To maintain the certification, a doctor is expected to participate in continuing education. To see whether a doctor is certified, go to certificationmatters.org.
- Red Flags: They include malpractice claims and disciplinary actions. Every doctor can get sued once or twice, that is the reality of being a business owner. But you don’t want someone who has a lot of malpractice claims.
- Office Policies: How long it takes to make an appointment for a routine visit (it should be less than a week), whether they offer same-day appointments, and how long patients are kept in the waiting room.
- Scrutinize the staff: They are the people who will schedule your appointments, check you in and out, give the doctor your messages, and address insurance concerns. Look for a staff that’s friendly, efficient, and respectful.
Where to Go for Doctor Information
Here is a quick guide to some other sites that provide information on doctors.
- AMA DoctorFinder. It may include information on specialty training, board certification, and more. There is no information on patient outcomes, disciplinary actions, or communication skills.
- Healthgrades.com. A comprehensive, easy-to-use site that allows searches by name, procedure, specialty, or condition. Includes info on education, affiliated hospitals (and ratings on the hospital itself), sanctions, malpractice claims and board actions, office locations, and insurance plans.
- Physician Compare. Information from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for people looking for health care providers who accept Medicare. Provides information on board certification, education, and group and hospital affiliations.
- RateMDs.com. Search for doctors by name, sex, ZIP code, state, and specialty. Includes information on training as well as patient ratings on staff, punctuality, helpfulness, and knowledge. It has links to medical board records where you can get information on disciplinary actions. Patients can post questions and answers about doctors. Ratings are based on patient reviews.
- Vitals.com. Find doctors by specialty, condition, insurance, name, and more. You’ll get the lowdown on a doctor’s awards, expertise, hospital affiliations, and insurance. Patient ratings on bedside manner, follow-up, promptness, the accuracy of diagnosis, and average wait time.
- Yelp.com. User reviews that give doctors one to five stars. Doctors can’t pay to alter or remove their reviews. It is hard to tell what the reviewer’s relationship is to the doctor and doctors can get high ratings with just a few responses.