Finding Dr. Right: Where should you start?
Fact is, the state of your health depends on having a primary care doctor. Studies show that increasing the number of primary care doctors in the U.S. by one doctor per 10,000 people decreases the preventable death rate by 5%.*
Choosing a network doc is the smartest use of your healthcare dollar, but frankly, finding the right one for you requires more than flipping through a plan directory.
A doctor with a medical degree isn't enough
Reframe your quest for a doctor as if you're looking for a meaningful, long-lasting friendship. Create a wish list of personal qualities, along with key questions - and rank the importance of each question and human quality.
For example, how important is it that Dr. Right speaks your native language or focuses on multicultural health issues?
Finding a good fit
Do you need a collaborator who follows up on questions? Is s/he younger, progressive, open to communicating via email and looking up answers online with you?
Are you the type that plans for appointments or a procrastinator who expects same-day appointments?
Do you want Dr. Right to be aggressive or conservative with their intervention recommendations? Do you want plain speak advice or do you want empathetic, gentle suggestions?
Checking Angie's List or a neighbor's opinion, or asking the advice of a healthcare professional you trust, is all well and good. But at the end of the day, scheduling an appointment may be the best test of whether we're right for each other.
The real test: make an appointment
See in person if your doctor answers your questions and listens without interrupting. Is quality communication occurring or are you heading toward misunderstandings of health risks and benefits? Simply, do you feel comfortable?
Finding Dr. Right is not just about the convenience of where the routine X-rays or labs are done. This isn't a simple relationship-it's about your vitality, health, and emotional well-being. It's about hiring a trusted advocate to help you navigate this confusing healthcare system. And while a continuing relationship can be very important, don't feel like you can't change if it's not working.
The most important thing is that your relationship is working for your betterment, even when the advice might not be easy.
My next blog talks more about building a relationship with your physician. Till then, take care.
*How is a shortage of primary care physicians affecting the quality and cost of medical care? - American College of Physicians