Though many Americans struggle to squeeze in exercise and regularly let their allotted vacation days go unused, they are making time to see the doctor.
In its most recent National Health Interview Survey, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that the number of physician office visits per 100 people reached 313.3, with 51 percent of them occurring at primary care physician offices.
But for those new to the healthcare landscape, or using their own health insurance for the first time, finding a doctor that meets one’s needs can sometimes be a challenge. But with the following tips, you can take the stress out of identifying a provider.
Focus On Your Primary Care
Whether you are particularly active and prone to sports injuries or find yourself consistently suffering from colds as the seasons change, it helps most folks to have a primary care doctor who can with day-to-day medical issues.
This means finding someone who can be available on the same day that an appointment is needed. Some primary care doctors set aside a certain number of hours each day for these last-minute appointments. Your primary care physician will also refer you to specialists and write prescriptions for assorted tests you may need, so it’s important to have someone in your corner that is communicative and organized.
Map Out Your Other Care Needs
The other types of doctors you will need to see can depend on an assortment of factors including gender, chronic illnesses and your family’s medical history. This might include a urologist, OB/GYN, an endocrinologist if you suffer from a thyroid disorder, or a cardiologist if either of your parents has a history of heart disease.
In addition to speaking to family members about their medical histories, you’ll want to compile a list of specialists you need to see, then what’s most important to you as you choose one. This could be anything from their location to a friend’s recommendation to their education, years of experience and training background. Your primary care physician can also recommend people her or she knows and trusts.
Other Things To Consider
When looking for doctors, make sure you check that they are “in-network” with your insurance plan. You may choose to start your search with our Find a Doctor tool online. You also may want to consider a hospital affiliation and his or her admitting privileges in your choice, then look for reviews of the type of care that hospital provides.
You may also inquire about how long it typically takes to make an appointment. Even the best doctor may end up being the worst if it takes months to get in the door!
A 2014 survey from The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 59 percent of Americans focused on personality when choosing a doctor, but only 29 percent focused on quality of care when selecting a doctor. During your first visit, note how well the doctor is listening to you without interrupting and answering your questions to your satisfaction. Focus on how well he or she explains your diagnosis and treatment, and ask yourself if you feel comfortable in this person’s care. It’s important to be attentive to the rest of the staff, as well, since you will frequently interact with them too.