Need a New Doctor? 19 Must-Ask Questions

Adapted from The Take-Charge Patient by Martine Ehrenclou, here are vital questions to ask before picking a new MD.

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Be Proactive

Finding the best primary care physican for you is essential to getting the best medical care. On the following slides are questions that can help you find your perfect match. You may not be able to get everything you want in one doctor, so make a list of your top five priorities and start from there. Remember, you might have to meet with more than one doctor to find one you connect with. Just because a close friend likes a doctor doesn’t mean that you will. Trust your instincts.

Heidi Kristensen

Last-Minute Requests

Do you feel more comfortable with a male or female doctor? With some specialties, this might make a difference to you.

 

Photo courtesy of vgstudio / shutterstock.com

Photo courtesy of vgstudio / shutterstock.com

Lost in Translation

Do you want a doctor who speaks your language or who is from the same culture? Many medical professionals recommended this because it makes practicing good medicine so much easier. You could get better medical care if you choose a doctor who understands your norms, your culture and your language.

 

Photo courtesy of iQoncept / shutterstock.com.

Photo courtesy of iQoncept / shutterstock.com.

Long-Distance Relationship

Do you want a doctor who is close to your home? Within 15 minutes? Thirty minutes?

 

Photo courtesy of gcpics / shutterstock.com.

Photo courtesy of gcpics / shutterstock.com.

Bedside Manner

Do you want a doctor who will see you if you are in the hospital? If so, you must ask this question of the doctor’s office staff before your visit. Some doctors do not visit their patients in the hospital. Either they have specified doctors in their practice who visit all their patients or a hospitalist sees all the patients there.

 

Photo courtesy of Reflekta / shutterstock.com.

Photo courtesy of Reflekta / shutterstock.com.

Important Associations

Do you need a doctor affiliated with the hospital you most likely will go to? You probably do. Before you meet a doctor, ask the front office staff which hospitals she is affiliated with. If you do have to be in a hospital, you will want your doctor to see you there, and if she does not have privileges at your hospital, she will not be able to. Try to have all your doctors affiliated with the same hospital so they can communicate with one another.

 

Photo courtesy of Stephen Mahar / shutterstock.com.

Photo courtesy of Stephen Mahar / shutterstock.com.

Off Hours

Do you need to see a doctor on weekday evenings or on Saturdays? Ask the doctor’s front office staff before you make an appointment.

 

Photo courtesy of 89studio / shutterstock.com.

Photo courtesy of 89studio / shutterstock.com

Essential Upgrades

Does the doctor use electronic health records? “If not, run for the hills,” says David Lee Scher, MD, FACP, FACC, FHRS. “It tells you that the physician thinks the investment isn’t worth it. Electronic health records are a patient advocate tool, and if a physician isn’t invested in that, it’s telling.”

 

Photo courtesy of Andrei Orlov / shutterstock.com.

Photo courtesy of Andrei Orlov / shutterstock.com

Coverage Confirmation

Does the doctor take your health insurance or Medicare, etc...? Ask if the doctor plans on continuing to take your health insurance. There are no guarantees, but ask anyway.

 

Photo courtesy of Kzenon / shutterstock.com.

Photo courtesy of Kzenon / shutterstock.com

Full Schedule

How many patients does the doctor see in a day?

 

Photo courtesy of Flashon Studio / shutterstock.com.

Photo courtesy of Flashon Studio / shutterstock.com

Expected Delay

How long do patients have to wait in the waiting room before their appointments?

 

Photo courtesy of Monkey Business Images / shutterstock.com.

Monkey Business Images / shutterstock.com

Lead Time

How long does it usually take to get a routine appointment?

 

Photo courtesy of Rob Byron / shutterstock.com.

Photo courtesy of Rob Byron / shutterstock.com.

Urgent Needs

How long does it take to get a sick appointment?

 

Photo courtesy of Yuri Arcurs / shutterstock.com.

Photo courtesy of Yuri Arcurs / shutterstock.com

Last-Minute Requests

Will the doctor fit me in if I really need to see her?

 

Photo courtesy of  sheff / shutterstock.com.

Photo courtesy of sheff / shutterstock.com

Quality Care

How much time does the doctor usually spend with a patient?

 

Photo courtesy of Monkey Business Images / shutterstock.com.

Photo courtesy of Monkey Business Images / shutterstock.com

Integrative Options

If you are into alternative medicine, is the doctor involved in or open to alternative medicine?

 

Photo courtesy of Yuri Arcurs / shutterstock.com.

Photo courtesy of Yuri Arcurs / shutterstock.com

Emergency Access

Is the doctor’s practice affiliated with an urgent care center?

 

Photo courtesy of Goodluz / shutterstock.com.

Photo courtesy of Goodluz / shutterstock.com

Thoughtful Accommodations

Is the office wheelchair accessible?

 

Photo courtesy of Lisa S. / shutterstock.com.

Photo courtesy of Lisa S. / shutterstock.com.

Convenient Contact

Does the doctor’s practice use a website for appointments, education or advice?

 

Photo courtesy of karen roach / shutterstock.com.

Photo courtesy of karen roach / shutterstock.com

Helping Hands

Does the doctor have a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant?

 

Photo courtesy of Yuri Arcurs / shutterstock.com.

Photo courtesy of Yuri Arcurs / shutterstock.com

Buy the Book

Adapted from The Take-Charge Patient by Martine Ehrenclou ($19.95; Lemon Grove Press). Click here to pre-order it. 

 

Next: Make Your Health Insurer Pay

 

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Lemon Grove Press

First Published Wed, 2012-03-28 11:36

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