Living a healthy and happy life is what we all strive for. In order to achieve that, you must take control of your healthcare journey. That means you should get educated on health issues, learn to make healthier choices every day and also find the right healthcare professionals who can provide the guidance and support you need every step of the way.
Being your own health advocate also means that you and your doctors must work together as a team in order to find the best solutions for you. That sounds like a great plan that can help you achieve your health goals, but it requires you to find the right medical professionals to work with first, which is a lot easier said than done.
Choosing a doctor, regardless of specialty, is never an easy task. In fact, most people experience numerous challenges along the way and switch between several providers until they can find the right one. What’s more, some people require more than one medical professional to cover all their healthcare needs, so things can be a lot more complicated for them.
However, that shouldn’t discourage you from finding the best healthcare provider for you. If you’re still on the lookout for a doctor (or doctors) who can provide the assistance that you require, here are a few tips that will make the journey a bit smoother.
Assess your needs
Healthcare needs differ from person to person, so finding the right doctors very much depends on assessing your personal health requirements and understanding what you need and expect from a health provider. It takes a different approach to find a primary care doctor than it takes to find a specialist, as you’ll be interacting differently with each of them.
Before you start your search, take the time to evaluate your health situation and decide what you’re looking for. Do you need someone to give you general medical advice and become a long-term health ally, or do you need a specialist to help you treat a very specific health problem? The answers to these questions should point you in the right direction.
Check their qualifications
Don’t choose a doctor just because a friend or a family member recommended him to you. While these recommendations can serve as a good starting point, you need to perform additional research to make sure that the providers you’re considering are indeed trustworthy and reliable professionals that you can count on to provide quality medical services.
It’s absolutely necessary to check their qualifications before anything else. That implies more than checking to see if they have a diploma hanging on the wall behind them. You have to make sure the provider has earned the necessary qualifications in the area of practice that interests you. A thorough background check can help you find this information and rule out potential scammers.
Check their track record
Speaking of background checks, while you’re conducting your research, you should also inquire about the experience that the medical provider has in his field. A doctor who has only started practicing medicine a year ago might not be able to provide the same level of care as a doctor with years of experience under his belt. This is especially important if you have a medical condition that is difficult to diagnose or treat.
Exceptions do exist, but it’s usually best to choose an experienced doctor with a long and clean track record for your peace of mind. Look for red flags such as a history of medical malpractice or disciplinary measures taken against him to stay on the safe side.
Choose the right specialist
Sometimes patients are surprised to find out that it’s not a doctor’s lack of skills that prevent them from being accurately diagnosed and finding the right answers or treatments, but the fact that they’re seeing the wrong specialist.
This can happen either because they’ve been poorly guided by their primary care doctor, or because they simply chose to see a specialist without consulting with their primary care doctor first. To avoid this type of situation, you should work with a reliable primary care physician who can recommend the right specialist for your medical needs.
Another very important aspect to consider when choosing your healthcare provider is location. It won’t do you much good if you find a great doctor if the practice is in a different city and you can’t travel to see him. A solution to this problem would be finding a doctor who provides telehealth services, so distance wouldn’t be a problem anymore.
Inquire about the types of services that the health professional provides to ensure availability and convenience. Asking about opening hours is just as important, especially if you have a busy schedule and making doctor’s appointments is difficult for you.
Unfortunately, for many people healthcare is still a privilege. For some people, the only way they could afford to pay for their medical bills is to choose a provider that works with their insurance. It can be quite difficult to find a practitioner that checks all your boxes and works with your insurance company as well, but not impossible.
Whatever your options might be, don’t forget to ask the doctors you’re considering about treatment costs and how they charge for the services they provide. This will save you from unpleasant financial surprises later down the road.
Trust your gut
Last but not least, you have to trust your gut feelings. Pay attention to how you communicate with each doctor, figure out if you are comfortable sharing your concerns with him and if he makes you feel heard and understood.
Sometimes doctors can sound great on paper, but when you get to meet them in real life, the way you interact might leave you a bit disappointed. Choose a doctor who you feel you can work with comfortably and makes a good first impression. Your instinct is sometimes your best guide.