Choose the best Doctor | Angies List Tips
Not everyone is looking for the same thing in a doctor and choosing the one who best meets your needs is one of the most important decisions you will make. Here are some suggestions:
- Take stock of your needs — Carefully consider such things as bedside manner, proximity to your home, experience, accreditations and you and your loved one's particular conditions.
- Make a list of possibilities — Check your health plan’s list of covered professionals first. Then check reviews and ratings on Angie’s List, along with recommendations from friends, family, neighbors, co-workers and other health care professionals you trust.
- Questions to ask — Make sure to tailor these to your individual needs when seeking out a new physician:
- What type of insurance does the office accept? Do you offer a discount for patients who choose to self pay?
- Which hospital(s) does the physician have privileges at?
- Is the physician board certified?
- Who covers for the doctor when he or she is not available?
- How long does it take to get an appointment?
- What is the average time patients are in the waiting room before being seen?
- What do you do if you have an urgent need for care?
- For common medical problems, does the doctor, nurse or physician assistant give advice over the phone or by e-mail?
- If testing is required, can you have that done in the office or do you have to go somewhere else? Will the physician's staff arrange the appointment for you?
- How are prescription refills handled?
- Check the record — The American Medical Association’s DoctorFinder can help in checking a physician’s credentials, while state medical boards will have information on doctors and other professionals who require licensing and may even have data on disciplinary action. Check the Federation of State Medical Boards for a state-by-state listing. For many MDs, visit the American Board of Medical Specialites and click on “Is Your Doctor Certified?” For osteopathic physicians, visit the American Osteopathic Association.Certification is a good indicator of experience, though not the only yardstick of quality.
- Meet in person — Make an appointment for an initial consultation and see what kind of fit they are. A health care professional should be willing to answer all your questions. If you have particular medical conditions, find out how experienced they are in treating those conditions. If you use or participate in any alternative medicines or treatments, see if they’re comfortable with them.
- Follow your gut — Ask yourself if the doctor listened carefully, answered in terms you understood, showed respect, made you feel comfortable, addressed the specific health problems you came in with and asked your preferences about different kinds of treatment. Is this someone you’re willing to entrust your health with for the long term?
Source: Angie’s List research; U.S. Agency for Health Care Quality