Choosing a Doctor Who’s Right for YOU
Having a doctor you respect professionally and feel comfortable with personally is good for your health. So take the time to make the right choice.
Here are some things to think about when choosing a doctor:
- Find out how long it takes to get an appointment. Make sure the doctor can see you without a long delay.
- Find out how you can reach the doctor if you have an emergency. Ask if the doctor sets aside time for patients in need of urgent care—or makes other arrangements to make sure you are seen quickly.
- Ask who will be part of your health care team. Find out what other medical staff are available to see you (such as physician assistants or nurse practitioners), if the doctor is not available.
- Ask if the office is open in the evening or on weekends. Longer office hours may be more convenient for you.
- Find out what happens when the doctor is on vacation. Ask if there are other doctors who can see you if your doctor is away.
- Check to see if the doctor's office is easy to get to. Find out if you can take public transportation. If you drive, ask about parking.
- Ask if you can use e-mail to contact the doctor. Not all doctors will communicate with patients by email. However, some doctors and patients use email and find it to be easy and fast.
- Check if the doctor is covered under your insurance plan. Keep in mind that you may have lower office visit co-payments for certain doctors.
Research the doctor's background and training
Learn as much as you can about the doctor's background and training. A good place to go for information is the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine's website at www.massmedboard.org. A listing of the Boards of Registration for other states is available at www.docboard.org.
Check quality and care reports. More information is now available on doctors' quality and care ratings. Information for Massachusetts physicians is available at the Massachusetts Health Quality Partners website at www.mhqp.org.
Be careful of Angie's List and similar sites. In some cases, only a handful of patients contribute to ratings. Also be careful of sites that require you to pay for reports about doctors. Some of these reports are simply "packages" of information available from public (free) sites.
Call the doctors' offices that you think would be a good fit, and say you are interested in an initial visit. Use this appointment to ask questions and find out how well the doctor listens, and whether you feel at ease with him or her.
Our Perspective: Related Posts
This month marks the tenth anniversary of the release of "To Err is Human" by the Institute… READ MORE
People across the country are wondering how health care reform will affect them and the care they… READ MORE
Find More Information
Provides an outline of techniques and considerations to help you when looking for a new physician (click on “For Patients”). READ MORE
Allows you to search for a Massachusetts Medical Society Member Physician. READ MORE
Provides professional information about almost every licensed physician in the United States, including doctors of medicine and doctors of osteopathy or osteopathic medicine. READ MORE