How to Choose Your Doctor
Finding the right match
Having a regular doctor is important as he or she plays a key role in supporting your health and well being. If you have an HMO plan, you pick a primary care physician (PCP) who you see first when you need care or a referral to a specialist. PPO plans don't require people to have a PCP but it’s still a good idea to have a doctor who knows you.
Use this handy checklist to find the right doctor for you.
Ask around. Friends, relatives, coworkers and any medical professionals (nurses, dentists, pharmacists) are great sources for personal recommendations.
Check availability. Many doctors already have as many patients as they can handle. One of the first questions you should ask is whether a doctor is accepting new patients.
Schedule an introductory meeting. Talking with the doctor is the best way to evaluate a good fit. Consider:
- Is the doctor easy to talk to? Would you be comfortable discussing small worries or embarrassing problems?
- Do you feel confident about his or her medical judgment?
- Does the doctor seem to have the time to listen to you or do you feel rushed?
- Is the doctor fluent in the language you prefer to use?
- How long must you wait to get an appointment?
- Can you reach the doctor by telephone and can you get simple advice over the phone?
- Does he/she offer an online health resource for you to schedule appointments, refill prescriptions and ask questions by email?
- Is the office location and hours convenient for you?
- Is the office staff friendly, compassionate, knowledgeable and professional in manner and dress?
Choosing a doctor is a very personal decision. The right one for you might be wrong for someone else, and vice-versa. Take the time to explore your options so that you are comfortable and confident in the person you choose to care for your health.