There are many reasons people look for a new doctor. Maybe the doctor you’ve seen for years is retiring, you moved, your healthcare needs have changed, or there’s a personality conflict. Whatever the reason, finding a new doctor doesn’t have to be a dreaded chore.
If you’ve had the same doctor for years and need to find a new one, it’s the perfect time to reassess what you need from a provider.
- Here are some things to consider when starting your search:
- Is the doctor accepting new patients?
- Is their office location convenient and accessible?
- Does the doctor accept Medicare? You can check the Physician Compare tool on Medicare.gov.
- Does the doctor accept your health insurance and are they in-network? If you’re a HealthTeam Advantage member you can search for providers online.
- Does the doctor’s area of expertise meet your healthcare needs?
- Ask your friends and family for referrals. Ask specifically what they like about their providers.
- Do they offer virtual visits/telehealth?
- What are their office hours, and do they have after-hours care options?
- Is it important to you which hospital the doctor admits their patients to?
- Are there specific times set aside for the doctor to take phone calls?
- Does the doctor accept email questions and is there a charge for this service?
- How long does it take to set an appointment?
- Can you reach the doctor in an emergency? Do they set time aside for urgent care needs?
- Do they perform labs and imaging tests in the office? If not, is the place they use in your insurance network?
- Do you prefer a doctor who has an individual practice or one who is part of a group so you can see someone else if they’re not available?
- Do you want a doctor who has experience with older patients?
- If you have chronic conditions (diabetes, CHF, arthritis, etc.), does the doctor have experience with these conditions?
- Is the doctor willing to include your family in healthcare discussions if that’s your preference?
Once you’ve done your research and decided on which doctor to see, it’s helpful to make a list of questions to take with you to your appointments. This is true for any appointment, not just the first. Sometimes a visit can get off the topics you want to discuss, so having a list is a good way to stay on track.
- After your first visit with your new doctor, take some time to think about the visit and how it went.
- Do you feel at ease with this doctor?
- Did the doctor show an interest in getting to know you?
- Were you comfortable asking questions?
- Were your questions answered and did they explain things in a way you could understand?
If your answers are yes, you’ve found your new doctor. If your answers were no, then you should keep looking. Finding a doctor that meets your needs and one you feel comfortable with is important to your healthcare.
Sources: Medicare.gov, Health.gov, National Institute on Aging