If you’re looking for a new doctor, look within before you start asking for recommendations from friends or scouring the Internet. Many of us are so intent on finding any doctor that we forget what matters most to us — a doctor that meets our individual needs. Here’s how to take charge of your health care and find the right doctor.
Assess your health care wants and needs
With all of the options today, putting a little time into your search and being direct about your needs can improve your health care. When you are aware of what you want and know you are getting it, it helps you take charge of your own health care.
Before you even think about searching for a doctor, ask yourself these questions:
- What did I like and dislike about my last doctor?
- What is most important to get from an office visit?
- What kind of services do I need outside of an office visit?
- Do I only care if the visit is covered under my insurance?
- What is a deal-breaker when it comes to a doctor?
- Is comfort and environment important to me?
- Do I care more about having a doctor that is the very best in the field?
- Do I want a doctor who is more direct or prompt with communication?
- How much time do I need for a typical visit?
How to find a doctor that meets your needs
Once you answer those questions, you can get a better feel for what you want and need out of a doctor. Here are some requirements different women have — and how to find a doctor that meets them.
A successful visit to the doctor — without the panic attack
If you are sensitive to medical settings, like I am, and want a more soothing environment, pay a visit to the office and scope out the waiting room to get a feel for the place. You can even ask the receptionist to give you a glimpse of an exam room. (Also, check out the practice’s website if they have one, which may give you photos of the office and doctor to put you at ease.)
A doctor that incorporates the holistic approach
While most women want to find a great doctor, some want one that integrates holistic options with traditional medicine. In that case, think outside the box and ask your acupuncturist, yoga teacher or massage therapist for a referral.
Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway, a Florida-based obstetrician and author of The Smart Mother’s Guide to a Better Pregnancy, advises patients to speak with the staff about incorporating a holistic approach. “It would also give the physician time to research the requested treatments to determine if he or she is willing to participate or not,” she notes.
A doctor that offers the time and attention you deserve
How can you avoid the medical heave-ho and stop getting rushed out of the office? Talk to the receptionist and ask how much time patients spend with the doctor. Be up-front and let him or her know an estimated time frame you require, and ask if the doctor accommodates it.
After a botched episiotomy from the birth of her first child, Renee Gordon wanted a different doctor to deliver her second baby. Upon visiting with a new physician who came highly recommended, she wanted to ask a few questions before the exam to make sure he was a good fit. Not only did the doctor arrive on time, but he didn’t balk when she wanted to talk. “I had a few questions to ask first, including ‘Do you automatically do an episiotomy?’ ” When he answered no, she knew he was a winner. (Her second birth took place flawlessly, sans any cutting.)
The very best care
When Margery Schwartz, a very active 60-year-old from southern Florida, started experiencing pain in her hips, she researched orthopedic doctors, hoping to find one that would minimize the trauma to her muscles and tissue from surgery. She wanted to ensure that both of her legs were the same length after procedure, since inconsistent lengths can be a common complication of total hip replacement.
Dr. William Leone came highly recommended by friends, but Schwartz was even more impressed to find out that he had invented a device that would minimize the chance of uneven legs. He practiced at one of the top 30 hospitals in the country for orthopedic surgery, which was the icing on the cake.
The result? “I was walking without a limp within three weeks,” Schwartz says. “I definitely made the right choice with Dr. Leone,” she adds.
Adjunct health care providers
While the right doctor is out there, don’t rule out other health care providers, adds Dr. Jacob DeLaRosa, chief of cardiac and endovascular surgery at Portneuf Heart and Vascular Center in Idaho. You may be able to see a nurse practitioner or other allied health professional and rely on the doctor for more intensive procedures.
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