How to Find the Right Doctor
Finding the right doctor sounds like it would be an easy job, but that’s not necessarily true. Often, it becomes a confusing and complex task that can discourage even the most persistent patient. So, the patient gives up and settles. For a doc that isn’t a good fit, doesn’t have a good bedside manner, can’t understand the patient’s health philosophy, etc. And, neither the patient nor the doctor is well-served.
Imagine another scenario. You find a knowledgeable doc that respects your ideas on your health. He communicates well. She aspires to bring you into optimal wellness with a philosophy that is compatible with your own.
Although some of your healthcare may be out of your control, much of it is not. This blog will help you to regain autonomy as you choose a doc that is right for you. Read on.
1) Decide on your doc’s type:
First, you need to determine what type of doctor you are looking for. Do you have chronic health conditions? Do you take regular prescription drugs? Do you have a disease that requires visits to a specialist?
What type of health insurance do you have? You may wish to choose your doc based on which docs are on your plan and those within a reasonable driving distance. Or, you may be willing and able to see doctors outside of your health network and/or ones who do not take your insurance, if you feel they might better serve your needs.
Are you interested in a more typical Western medicine doc or do you prefer a more integrative approach to wellness? Holistic and integrative physicians are usually interested in delving deeper into the underlying causes of your problems, while they assist you in improving your current symptoms. They may have additional training in a variety of Eastern and Western approaches to wellness including osteopathic, homeopathic, chiropractic, acupuncture, reflexology, Ayurvedic, herbal, Chinese, energy, mind-body-soul, preventive, and functional medicine.
As you answer the above questions, you will begin to narrow down the type of doctor that you are looking for. Now, you are ready to do some further “research.”
2) Employ “Word of Mouth”:
One of the best ways to find a doc that is a good fit for you is to engage in “Word of Mouth.” Ask your friends and colleagues what docs they see and if they are pleased with their care. But don’t just ask anyone. Ask someone that you feel likely shares your health philosophy. Otherwise, the relationship may not work out and will disappoint you.
Another way to inquire via “Word of Mouth” for more integrative physicians is to call and speak to a pharmacist at a local compounding pharmacy. A compounding pharmacy is a special type of pharmacy that makes or “compounds” prescriptions that are based on your individual needs per your doctor’s prescription. Many integrative physicians will utilize the services of a compounding pharmacy, so this is often a wonderful resource for you in locating an accessible integrative physician.
3) Conduct an Internet search:
The Internet can provide you with valuable information in searching for a compatible doc. You can access information about docs within your insurance network such as their credentials and philosophy about health at your insurance website.
You also can search for integrative or holistic physicians in your area. Usually their websites will give you a lot of information about how they practice medicine, what services they offer, and what types of illnesses they treat. Use keywords when you search such as your location, type of doc, concerns addressed, and specific health philosophy or treatment that you are interested in.
In addition, here are several websites that might point you to a good integrative physician who will examine the body, mind and soul connections as they relate to disease, and seek to employ appropriate treatments from a variety of disciplines:
- Integrative Medicine Fellowship website
- Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine
- The Institute for Functional Medicine website
- National Ayurvedic Medical Association
- The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians
- National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
- American Holistic Health Association
If these physicians are not a part of your insurance network, you may decide that it is worthwhile for you to pay out-of-pocket to see them from time to time, or, at the very least, to use these docs as a guide to help you find integrative care in your community. This may only involve one or two visits a year, and in the long run, may be cost effective for you (see http://bit.ly/1I68wVX for more details).
4) Call the doc’s office directly:
After determining your doc’s type, talking to friends, and conducting some internet research, select several physicians that you believe would be a good match for you. Now it’s time to call the doc’s office directly. Don’t hesitate to ask to speak to an office assistant who could give you more information about the doctor. Inquire about the doc’s training and board certification. Ask what areas of expertise the doc has, and match this with your current needs.
Clarify the wellness philosophy of the doc if this is important to you. For example, if you want to see a physician so that you can get a referral to an acupuncturist to treat your lower back pain, then you would not want to go to a doc who thinks that acupuncture is a hoax.
Double check to see if the doc takes your insurance, and what your co-pays or other fees would be. If the doc does not accept your insurance or does not file insurance, find out what the cost would be for you to pay out-of-pocket. Often, you can negotiate fees or set up a payment plan with the doc if you will be paying out-of-pocket.
Although it may take a little time and even a bit of trial and error to find the right doc, you can do it. Try out the above suggestions, and please let me know if they are helpful to you. Remember, your health determines both the quantity and quality of your life. Make it a priority!
What factors do you think are important when choosing a new physician?