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.

25 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.

  7. Scott Adams says:

    I like the idea of asking about how many times the doctor has done a specific procedure you need. I am going to need to go in to surgery in the next couple months, and I don’t know how to choose someone for it. I can see how experience could make a difference. I’ll be sure to keep that in mind.

  8. Ivy Baker says:

    I just moved into a new area and I want to find a new primary care doctor. It does seem like a good idea for me to do what you suggested about checking if the doctor has been disciplined by the state licensing department. I wouldn’t want to go to a doctor that has been in trouble.

  9. Barbera Peters says:

    My husband and I just moved to a new area that is way too far from our old doctor so we need to find a new one. You mentioned that when searching for a new doctor you should check that they are board-certified so that you know they have expertise in an area. That is a great point to check for that I have never considered before. This information will be great to pass along to my husband.

  10. Bethel Smith says:

    In the past, my method was to just find a doctor in my health care provider and set up an appointment right away. I really like your tip about interviewing your doctors to get to know a little before making that big decision. No two doctors are equal so it’s best to find the best one for you. I will be sure interview doctors before choosing for now on.

  11. Kairi Gainsborough says:

    Your tip about checking if your doctor is board-certified and what their expertise include is really smart. I would imagine that you can also ask them about this when you interview them. When I choose my family doctor, I want to make sure I pick someone we can trust for many years to come. I plan on talking to a few different candidates before I make my choice.

  12. Zachary Tomlinson says:

    Wow, it’s a great article! I found it useful how you mentioned about checking if a doctor is board-certified to perform expertise in areas like internal medicine. My wife and I want to organize a comprehensive checkup of our health before going on vacation abroad, so we’ll consider this information in order to find a good doctor for the whole family.

  13. Larry Weaver says:

    When looking at doctors that I would like to work with my family, I like the tip to interview the doctor. Knowing about after-hours care would also be a nice thing to know about. My family moved to a new area and it’s time that we look for a new doctor.

  14. Ashley Turns says:

    My husband and I have just moved and I have begun looking for a new doctor that we can use. So I appreciate your tip to see if the doctor has been board certified since that will mean he has a lot of expertise in one area. Since I only want the best for my husband and me, I will make sure that our doctor has been board-certified.

  15. Jordan says:

    I’ve been thinking about finding a home doctor for my grandmother, and I think that being able to get some tips about what to look for would be good. I’m glad you mentioned that we should make sure we’re getting a certified doctor when we choose one. I’m going to have to do some research and be sure that we find a good doctor to come to her home!

  16. Gloria Durst says:

    I agree that when looking for a surgeon or doctor you need to interview them first. Getting to know their personality would help you know if they are right for you. My sister needs an oncology surgeon, so she’ll have to interview them first.

  17. Alexandria Martinez says:

    After my fiance and I moved into a new area, we are interested in finding a family practice clinic. We want to pick a good place to go to for medical check-ups and so on. We will be sure to ask about after-hours care as a determining factor.

  18. Taylor Bishop says:

    I just wanted to thank you for going over how to choose a doctor. I’m really glad that you mentioned that you should ask about their after-hour care. This seems like a good way to understand more about what the emergency process is like for them. Maybe it could be good to research some general standards so that you know more about it.

  19. Hannah Neilson says:

    My brother recently moved and needs to find a new doctor. Because of this, I like how you say that you would want to consider interviewing them upfront. When my brother looks for a doctor he’ll have to interview them first.

  20. Julius Wither Amberfield says:

    It was really helpful when you suggested asking my chosen doctor about the way they treat patients like me who needs special care and attention. That’s good to know because I am currently looking for a good hospital with a good doctor to treat my herniated disc. Considering that this will be my first time to require serious medical attention, it would be really nice if I can get a medical center which has a set of good staff who can assist me all throughout the process. Thank you for sharing. It was great.

  21. Michael Robinson says:

    Thanks for helping me understand what I need to consider when choosing a doctor. One thing that you said was that you should make sure that your insurance qualifies for that doctor and for his office so that you do not run into any problems. Because we are moving to the west coast, it will be important for us to find a new doctor as soon as possible. Thanks!

  22. Persephone de Vito says:

    It was really nice how you pointed out the importance of checking the board certification of the doctor because that will ensure that I picked the right one for my specific needs. It was good that I read this article because I was trying to think of ways to make sure that I chose the right doctor. My family has a history of heart disease, and I think I’m beginning to feel the symptoms, so I want to see a doctor who can help me. Your tips will surely be of great help. Thanks!

  23. Jordan Miner says:

    We’ve been looking for some good primary care physicians for our family. I’m glad you mentioned that you should ask about after hours care for primary care physicians. I’m going to have to look into a few good doctors and see what pcp’s we can find!

  24. Gary Puntman says:

    I agree that you will need to make sure the doctor is board-certified before. It’s important to find a doctor who has particular expertise in what you need, like you said. Not all doctors will be the same and have the same type of training or experience.

  25. Frank Delaware says:

    My wife and I are getting ready to move to a new area, and we were curious about how you would choose the right doctor once we got there. I loved your point about asking about specific health conditions and if they treat them. It would be nice to know you won’t have to go to multiple people to get things treated.


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