As with any relationship, you need to find a doctor that you can trust and make sure it will be a beneficial partnership, in the interest of your health. First determine what type of doctor you are looking for. If it is a general practitioner it will be important that they have good bedside manner and take their time with you, as they could be working with you and your family over a lifetime.
A good way to start your search is by getting referrals from friends or associates. If you have no referrals, then look to the Internet for reviews – and remember to take those with a grain of salt, both positive and negative. Weigh out the comments to get the average ratings, and look through the statements for things that mean something to you personally – such as time spent in the appointment, office cleanliness, etc.
You may be relegated to choosing from a list of providers given out by your insurance company. If at all possible set up a consultation appointment to make sure your personalities mesh. Also look at the whole office: Is the receptionist friendly? Do you feel comfortable with the nurses? How does the doctor interact with their staff? Generally speaking, the staff will reflect the person that employs them; bosses tend to choose people with like minds and temperaments.
VETTING YOUR PHYSICIAN
In the real world you won’t always be able to research your physician. You may go to the emergency room or show up for a regular appointment and be assigned to a different doctor. But when you do have the time it is important to look out for certain points:
Are they licensed? You can check if your doctor is currently licensed by looking up your state’s physicians licensing board online.
Are they Board Certified? If your doctor is listed as board certified, be sure that he is certified by either the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS) or American Osteopathic Association (AOA). Also be sure that your doctor is actually practicing the specialty in which he/she is certified.
Where did they go to medical school or do their residency? This information may be with the licensing board but if it is not there you can find it at ucomparehealthcare.com. It does make a difference if they were schooled at a top notch facility or teaching hospital – it mattered to them to attend a prestigious school, it should mean something to you as well.
With which hospitals are they affiliated? Do some background checking on hospitals in your area; many states are offering “report cards” on hospitals. You can also check for information through the state health department. On the one hand, if you prefer a certain hospital you’ll want to know this doctor can attend you there if there is an emergency. On the other, you may want to make certain the hospital where they practice is one of which you would approve.
ALTERNATIVE WEB TOOLS
Here are some great web tools that can give you further assistance and information that you may not get from other sites:
RateMDs.com: This website provides actual ratings from patients as well as employing an internal rating system. They will even provide a list of highly rated doctors for your area, which can greatly assist you in the initial choice.
Leapfroggroup.org: This site allows you to see the way hospitals are rated in such areas as their ability to prevent medical errors, staff intensive-care units and manage serious injuries. This could be vital in choosing the right hospital for you.
Vitals.com: This site is a one-stop shop to find out everything you can about your doctor. They will also help you search for doctors in your area according to your preferences.
With all of the online information available to us these days it is amazingly simple to do this background checking. My advice is to use as many of these tools as possible, so you can verify information across several resources. These days we search the Internet for reviews, critiques, etc. prior to even choosing a restaurant. If you spend the time to research a physician and hospital, it could make the difference between wellness and wasting hard earned money with unsatisfactory results.