Whether you’re looking for a doctor, surgeon, nurse practitioner, or even dentist, it can be hard to find one you like. Unfortunately in the demanding, fast-paced healthcare industry, healthcare providers are often brisk, rushed, and lack interest in their patients. Here are seven steps that can help you nail down a caring provider who fits your needs.
1. Write down your expectations and questions. Prioritize them in a simple list so when you ask about a provider, you can quickly evaluate if he meets your criteria.
2. Ask for recommendations from friends or coworkers. Some of the best providers are ones that a close friend can recommend. However, do remember that your friends may not have the same care philosophy as you do, so remember that list and ask your friend if he fits the criteria.
3. Get referrals from a doctor, provider, or hospital you trust. If your care should have to change hands, you can ask your current provider for a recommendation. If he knows you well, he will be able to narrow down a small list based on your preferences, such as male or female, which hospitals they are affiliated with, etc.
4. Check online for reviews. Some health insurance sites give ratings for physicians, surgeons, and nurse practitioners, as do sites such as vitals.com and ratemds.com. Be sure to read the written reviews for details that often reveal personality traits and care practices patients did or didn’t like.
5. Interview the provider before committing yourself to his care. An interview can allow you time to ask questions without worrying about testing, diagnosis, and prescriptions. Schedule an interview early in the day before the doctor starts seeing patients. Ask him about his care philosophy, what kind of patients he has experience with, what his specialities are, and how he handles situations specific to your condition. As he answers, notice how he addresses your concerns. Does he brush off your concerns, or address each one? Does he listen well and ask questions to clarify what you mean? Does he seem flexible or rigid in working with your preferences?
6. Ask a receptionist. While being able to interview a potential provider before becoming a patient is ideal, you usually end up paying for the time you spend with him. The next best thing is to ask the receptionist at the provider’s office about his care philosophy, what kind of patients he works with, and what his specialities are. Based on her answers and attitude about the provider, you can often get a good idea of how working with him will be.
7. Trust your instinct. If you feel uncomfortable with a provider on the first visit, chances are that won’t change in subsequent visits. If you feel patronized, unheard, and uncared for, or if your provider is inflexible to your needs, it’s time to find a new one.