Finding the Right Doctor
When you need expert help, you want to find the best qualified professional. But finding the right doctor is much different than finding a mechanic. Take the time to do the research. Here are three steps to finding the right doctor.
1. Make a List of Potential Doctors
- Start with the network. If your health insurance plan features a specified network, begin your search with those doctors. If you are not limited by the provider network, then you may have more options.
- Ask friends or family for references. One of the strongest reasons to choose a doctor is the recommendation of somebody who is under their care. A doctor’s reputation is based on their patients’ satisfaction. That should tell you something about the quality of their care.
- Check local resources. Check with local hospitals to see if they have a referral service. If you’re moving to a new area, recruit your current doctor to help you find a qualified doctor near your new home.
2. Research and Narrow Your List
- Ask questions. Contact the doctors on your list and ask for information about their background. Some of these questions might include:
- What is the doctor’s training and education?
- How long has he or she been in practice?
- (If important to you) What is the doctor’s age and gender?
- Is the doctor board-certified? (This requires specialty training.)
- Check for complaints. Contact your state’s department of insurance and see if the doctors you are considering have had complaints filed against them.
- Go online. Search online for articles and reports about the doctors you are considering. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois offers two reports to help you in your search - the Blue StarSM Medical Group/IPA Report recognizes HMO contracting medical groups/Independent Practice Associations (IPAs) that have documented high levels of performance in providing patient care. Similarly, the Blue StarSM Hospital Report measures several hospital quality and patient safety performance measures for 94 urban Illinois hospitals.
3. Meet Your Doctor(s)
- Meet and greet. Once you’ve narrowed your list to a handful of doctors, set up an appointment so you can get to know the candidates. Bring a set of written questions you’d like to ask, and be prepared to discuss any concerns. Some offices charge a small fee for a meet and greet, but it will be well worth it.
- Make your choice. By now you should have a pretty good idea of your prime candidate. The choice will be clear cut or it may be difficult to choose. Either way, it’s important to remember that you do have a choice. Save your research, just in case you might consider switching doctors down the road. But, if you’ve done everything outlined here, chances are you’ve found the right doctor for you!