Your general physician plays a very important role in your life. So, if you’re looking for a new one (because you recently graduated, moved, etc.), taking the time to make the right decision is crucial.
That doesn’t mean the process needs to be difficult. By keeping the following tips in mind, should be able to find the right doctor for your needs, lifestyle, and overall personality.
Make Sure They’re Affordable
You need to consider certain practical issues when choosing a physician. Specifically, you want to look for someone who’s “in network.” If your insurance won’t cover general doctor appointments, you’ll simply be less inclined to make them when you need to.
It’s also worth noting that the location of a physician’s office has an impact on their affordability. Even if a doctor is technically in-network, you might still struggle to afford visits if you can’t reach their office. While you shouldn’t settle for the wrong physician simply because they’re nearby, you also shouldn’t choose a doctor who’s too far away to be easily seen.
Ask for Recommendations
Do you have friends and family that live near you? If so, ask them to recommend physicians in the area. When people have positive experiences with their doctors, they happily encourage others to become patients. On the other hand, when someone has a negative experience with a physician, they’ll want to ensure others don’t have the same experience.
Pay Attention to Staff Behavior
Your doctor isn’t the only person you’ll interact with when scheduling appointments. You also need to coordinate with their staff.
It’s a good idea to cold call physicians to get a sense of how their staff behaves. Do they seem rude and curt, or are they pleasant and accommodating? Again, it’s important to find a doctor you can visit easily. If their staff isn’t up to par, you might not feel comfortable making appointments in the future.
Don’t judge a staff based on one interaction alone. Maybe they were particularly busy when you called, or maybe you happened to reach the one rude employee at an otherwise warm practice. It’s important to speak with the staff multiple times before deciding how you feel about them. That said, this is a major factor that’s easy to overlook when choosing a doctor.
During your early interactions with the staff, make a point of asking how long it usually takes to make an appointment. Hopefully they’ll answer honestly. When you need treatment, you don’t want to be stuck waiting for days before seeing your physician.
Additionally, ask about their cancellation policy. Some clinics will charge patients hefty fees for cancelling appointments at the last minute. Although this is understandable, you may be happier with a more flexible policy if you have a busy lifestyle.
Check for Disciplinary Action
Your doctor should be fully-licensed and in good standing with the state. If a physician has a history of disciplinary issues, that’s a big red flag. Check online to learn more about complaints and disciplinary actions taken against any physicians you’re considering.
Find Out What Hospitals They Use
There are instances when general practitioners refer patients to area hospitals for specialized treatment. When speaking with doctors you’re considering, ask which hospitals they use. You want to know their treatments are covered by your insurance, that they’re accessible, and that you generally feel comfortable with the idea of being treated in their facilities.
Trust Your Intuition
Again, you need to keep practical issues in mind when choosing a doctor. You shouldn’t make a decision based solely on a gut feeling.
However, it’s also necessary to find a doctor you communicate with easily. There will be many times when you have to explain various symptoms and experiences to them. You’re more likely to get the treatment you need if you feel comfortable talking to your doctor about any and all health topics.
Pay attention to how you feel about a doctor’s communication style when meeting with them for the first time. If you aren’t comfortable interacting with them at all, you may be better off seeking a different physician.
In fact, this issue is more practical than you might initially think. When you need treatment, you need to clearly understand everything your doctor explains. This is key to proper care. If you don’t understand them easily, you might not take a medication correctly, use a medical device properly, and much more.
Find Out Who Covers for Them
Doctors are busy people. Yours won’t always be available. When they’re away, someone will cover for them.
Find out who that is. Ideally, you’ll be able to see your own physician when making an appointment, but in situations where that’s not possible, you also need to feel reasonably comfortable with a substitute.
Remember, some doctors belong to group practices. If you’re considering such a physician, ask whether you’ll typically see them, or whether different members of the practice treat patients based on availability.
Learn About Their Experience
Do you have any chronic medical conditions? Are you at risk of developing any? If so, it’s helpful when your physician has experience treating such conditions. Granted, this isn’t always necessary, as they can usually refer you to a specialist if needed, but it’s still a topic worth asking about.
It’s also important to ask about their overall philosophy. Find out why they became a doctor. Find out what aspects of their job are most rewarding to them. When a doctor is passionate about their work, patients typically benefit.
Consider Gender Preference
You shouldn’t judge yourself if you find it’s easier to speak with a doctor of a particular gender. For instance, if you were experiencing sexual health issues, you might be more comfortable talking about them with someone you feel is more likely to understand the topic. As always, you shouldn’t decide not to work with a great physician simply because of their gender, but you should also be honest about your own preferences.
These points are valuable for anyone in need of a new doctor. Remember to keep them in mind the next time you’re in this situation. By taking the time to consider your options, you’ll be much more likely to find the right physician.
Want more content like this? Sign up here with your email for $20 off any appointment, special deals, and health-related content sent to you on a regular basis.
About Slingshot Health
Slingshot Health is a health tech startup that brings top healthcare providers and patients together. Patients bid on the cost of services and healthcare providers accept bids based on availability. Slingshot Health is unique in that it is a mutual marketplace putting both patients and providers back in control. Visit us at slingshothealth.com.