Categorized | Healthy Lifestyle

Tips for choosing a doctor

Referrals from another doctor or family and friends are a first step in choosing a doctor, but specialists advise doing some research to finalize your choice:

The insured typically look in-network. Some insurers are starting to score their providers on certain quality and cost measures. Ask what your plan’s listing means.

√ Check if the doctor is board-certified, which indicates particular expertise in an area such as internal medicine, gynecology, allergy and immunology. You don’t want plastic surgery from a primary care physician, said Doris Peter, director of Consumer Reports’ Health Ratings Center.

 Check if a doctor has been disciplined by the state licensing agency. The Federation of State Medical Boards has a directory of state boards, plus a license search service for a fee.

 If you need surgery or a specific procedure performed, ask how often the doctor provides that treatment to patients like you. Studies show volume makes a difference.

 Interview the doctor. Do you want someone who discusses the pros and cons of tests and treatments upfront? Avoid physicians who discourage seeking a second opinion, said Dr. Elliott Fisher of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. Also, ask if the doctor has any financial relationships with drugmakers or device manufacturers, said Consumer Reports’ Peter.

 Ask about specific health conditions. What percent of their diabetic patients have their blood sugar under control? Do they follow national guidelines on cancer screenings? That’s the kind of information many quality programs are seeking. Fisher said physicians can’t work to improve patients’ outcomes if they don’t track them.

 Team-based care makes a difference, he said. Is there a nutritionist to help diabetics control blood sugar? Someone who calls to tell the blood pressure patient he’s overdue for a checkup?

 Ask how a primary care physician and specialist will coordinate care, perhaps via electronic medical records, so you’re not prescribed conflicting medications or duplicative tests.

 Ask about after-hours care. Will the person who answers the phone have access to your medical record?

Check if your state has any report cards to track health care quality. The nonprofit National Committee for Quality Assurance publishes online directories of doctors recognized for providing high-quality care for certain diseases or who are affiliated with “patient-centered medical homes,” practices it recognizes as meeting certain requirements for coordinated care.

6 Responses to “Tips for choosing a doctor”

  1. Shad Morris says:

    It’s interesting that you say to ask about specific health conditions. I know that I would want to see if they are able to treat them, or if they have helped them in the past. That way, you can be confident that they will be able to help you.

  2. Luke Smith says:

    I liked your advice to check with the state licensing agency to see if a doctor has been disciplined by them at any point. I imagine this information would be accessible to the public to help you make an informed decision. I would also think that it could help to look at the doctor’s office and staff to make sure it is clean and they are friendly.

  3. My wife and I just moved to a new area, and we were curious about how we would choose the right person for the job. It’s interesting that you say to ask about specific health conditions that they deal with. It would be nice to know that you will be able to take everyone there when something goes wrong.

  4. John says:

    I agree with the article that although you want recommendations as a starting point from friends, it’s best to do your own research. I thought it was interesting how it mentioned that you should interview the doctor prior to committing to using them as your primary care physician. What would you suggest asking during that interview to determine if they are a right fit for you and your needs?

  5. Asking how often the doctor provides certain treatments to patients like you is excellent advice. Making sure you find a gynecologist that will be able to handle any procedure you need would be important. Making a list of things you are looking for in a gynecologist and then meeting with different ones in your area could help you find one that will be able to properly handle what you need.

  6. I agree that you would want to interview a doctor before you choose them. It would seem that you would want to find someone who is easy to get along with to work with. I need to get my son up to date on his shots so I’ll have to find a doctor who I like to help out.


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