Health (MP) Finding a doctor before you get sick is especially important now that more insurance policies are requiring primary care physicians (PCP) to act as gatekeepers for our medical needs. And thanks somewhat to the Affordable Care Act, the number of people with health care insurance has exploded meaning more people than ever are hunting for a physician they can call their own.
“Unfortunately, it’s difficult to find reliable, easy-to-understand information about specific doctors or practices,” says Mark Peters, Ph.D., director of the Health Care Institute. “You maybe able to check out physician reviews on various sites, but you really want to find out if they have any malpractice claims and disciplinary actions pending. Even good doctors can get sued once or twice, but “you certainly don’t want a guy that has had a lot of malpractice claims,” he adds. Common reasons for being disciplined include substance abuse and inappropriate sexual behavior, though it can be hard to know exactly why a doctor was sanctioned. Did you know most states let physicians practice whilst they receive treatment…
There still remain questions you want answered before choosing your PCP such as: Does the physician listen to you without interrupting? Does she/he fully answer your questions? Does she/he explain your diagnosis and treatment fully, and specify a date for a follow-up visit? And what are the all the treatment options? Healthcare.gov 5 questions to ask your physician before choosing him or her may help simplify the process for you.
I’ve found strategies and resources that can help you find a new physician or check up on one you have. Below you’ll find what’s needed to find a good primary care provider, what to focus on in your search, and where to go…
Find a doctor network
When trying to find a good physician, always start with those nearest you, recommends patient advocate Lisa Hall. And if your friends can’t recommend a good physician? “Ask your pharmacist. People in the know like nurses and x-ray technicians hold the inside scoop on where good physicians can be located. Also, check your insurance directory or search on its website for doctors in your network. Because physicians often add or drop plans, call the office confirming that the physician still accepts your insurance.
Being certified through the American Board of Medical Specialties means a physician has earned a medical degree from a qualified medical school, completed three to seven years of accredited residency training, is licensed by a state medical board, and has passed one or multiple exams administered by a member of the ABMS. To keep up the certification, a physician is expected to take part in continuing education. To see whether a physician is certified, go to certificationmatters.org.
They’re folks who will schedule your appointments, check you in and out, give the physician your messages, and address insurance concerns. Look out for a staff that’s friendly, efficient, and respectful. “Health care is a team sport,” said Lois Margaret Nora, M.D., J.D., and president and CEO of the American Board of Medical Specialties. “People should expect quality in their physician and the system in which the physician practices.”
Get the review scoop
Wondering how your physician ranks with other patients? Go to HealthGrades.com and RateMDs.com to study reviews of local physicians by real patients. Plus, USNews.com has a wealth of expertise about doctors in your town.