It’s already stressful when you or your loved one is suffering from an illness, and all you want is to find a way to manage or relieve the discomfort. Having to find a doctor (especially specialists) that you trust can be daunting and can take some time to determine if you’re compatible with each other.
Most people rely on personal references from friends and family. However, if you happen to move somewhere where no one you know can give you recommendations, you can try the following process to help determine the best option for you:
Step 1: Determine the type of doctor you need
There are a multitude of specialists available who can treat the same symptoms you have, so it is important for you to know what the underlying causes of these symptoms are. For example, many doctors can treat chronic pain in Pekin, but is it caused by general wear and tear, previous injuries or trauma? If you think it is caused by PTSD, you would need to look up specialists in Pekin that can help you manage it. Similarly, if you’re suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, there is a different set of specialists in Pekin.
If you’re unsure, you can first look for a primary care physician to help you assess your symptoms and conditions
Step 2: List out all the doctors and specialists in your area
The easiest way to obtain a list would be to ask your insurance company for their list around your area. You can also look at doctor-finder databases online.
Step 3: Narrow your choices
Having a large list of doctors and specialists could be overwhelming, but it can be quickly narrowed down based on your preferences. Here are some things that you should consider:
- Location of their office: you’ll want to select somewhere close to your home or office so that going to see your doctor won’t become a chore. You’ll also be able to reach them a lot faster in case of an emergency
- Hospital affiliations: a doctor’s affiliation to hospitals grants them privileges such as admitting patients into that particular hospital and performing any procedures. If you have a preferred hospital, this is an important factor to consider
- Educational background and specialty interests: ensure that the doctor has the appropriate educational background and specialty so that you can receive adequate treatment
- Languages spoken: choosing a doctor who can communicate in your preferred language will take the stress out of each visit, and also minimize the chances of miscommunication
- Years in practice: depending on the level of expertise you require, you’ll want to look for a doctor that has more experience
- Gender: seeing a doctor of the same gender can be more comfortable for some people
- Types of insurance they accept: medical costs can build up really quickly, so knowing what insurance they accept will keep you from going over budget
- Are they accepting new patients?: You can find the best doctor, but if they aren’t accepting any patients, then you’ll have to filter them out
Step 4: Look up your choices online
After you’ve narrowed down your choices, it’s time to look them up online to see if their reputation lives up to their qualifications on paper. Try looking them up on Google to find their social media or blogs to get a better idea of their character. You should also verify that they have a registered board certification from the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). To check for any negative reports, go on their state’s licensing website. Doctors with negative reports should be cautioned against.
Step 5: Make an appointment with the doctor
Now that you’ve decided on a doctor, it’s time to make an appointment with them. How convenient it is to get the office and how timely they are can be a big determining factor for you, especially if you find it hard to make extra time for doctor appointments — you don’t want to be driving somewhere already far away only to be told to wait another hour after your appointment time.
When you get to the clinic, take note of the staff’s professionalism and courteousness, and find out how easily you’ll be able to obtain your medical records in the future for any reason. The cleanliness and comfort are a good indication of clinic hygiene and those that are dirty should be avoided in the future.
Make sure to bring a list of your medical history, including medications, allergies, any procedures or surgeries you’ve had, and past and current conditions so that the doctor knows what has and hasn’t worked for you. This will also help them determine the best course of treatment for you. Also, bring the contact information for your previous doctors and a copy of your insurance policy.
Be prepared to ask the doctor questions about your condition to find out how familiar they are with treating it and ask for any resources they recommend so you can learn more. Once you’ve interacted with the doctor, you’ll get a better sense of if they’re right for you. Some questions you should ask yourself to decide if you should choose the doctor:
- Was everything you asked explained clearly?
- How caring did the doctor seem?
- Does the doctor inspire trust in you if you were to go back for a follow-up?
- How did you feel about the doctor? Did you like him/her?
If you felt that the doctor wasn’t clear, didn’t care enough or didn’t feel like you could trust their opinion, don’t be afraid to continue looking or ask for a second opinion elsewhere — if you’re planning to find a long-term health care provider, it’s worth it to spend more time looking for a doctor that you can trust to look after you.