Hello again! Last week, we posted Part 1 of an article with strategies to help you meet your medical match—a good doctor you can trust through every stage of life. These included determining what type of doctor you need, searching for prospective doctors, and checking a doctor’s credentials. Today, we’ll talk about what happens next—from interviewing prospective providers to evaluating your relationship during and after your first visit.
Once you’ve gathered the names of several doctors with the help of a few websites or advice from friends and family, it’s time to make some calls. Ask questions of the office staff to find out if the doctor may be right for you. Such as:
- Is the doctor accepting new patients?
- Does the doctor participate in your health insurance plan?
- Is the doctor’s office located near your work or home?
- What are the doctor’s office hours?
- Who covers for the doctor when he or she is not available?
- Which hospitals does the doctor use? Are they a part of your health plan?
- Will the office bill your insurance for you? Or are you expected to pay up-front for services and file the claims yourself?
- In general, how long will you wait to see the doctor after you call?
- Are X-rays and lab tests conducted in-office, or will you have to go to another facility?
You might also request an appointment to “interview” a potential doctor. (It’s a good idea to first ask if there will be a copayment or other small charge for this privilege.) Many pediatricians will take time to meet with you, while most internists will not. Some pediatric practices occasionally host open-house events that give you the chance to meet and talk with the group’s providers.
Evaluating your first visit
Your first visit is your best opportunity to make sure your new doctor is truly the one for you. Be prepared! Bring information about your health history (including a list of health problems that run in your family, all medications you’re taking, and any symptoms you’re currently experiencing) and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Open communication is key to a healthy patient/doctor relationship, and it’s a two-way street.
Pay attention to whether or not you feel comfortable with the doctor, and ask yourself afterward:
Did the doctor . . .
- Listen to my concerns?
- Encourage me to ask questions?
- Talk to me in terms I could understand?
- Address the health problems I asked about?
- Involve me in my treatment decisions?
Remember, your primary care doctor is your partner for good health. It’s important that you can trust this person and that you feel comfortable with the care you receive.
As with any relationship, it may take some time to decide whether your new doctor is the one for you. If after the first few visits you aren’t convinced, keep looking. Somewhere out there, your “Dr. Right” is waiting!
For more on this topic, visit our Learning Center.