|1. Where is the doctor located? Will it be easy for you to get there? Can you get there on public transportation? Is there enough parking?
2. Which hospitals does the doctor use? Are you comfortable with being treated at one of them should the need arise? Does your insurance cover care provided at these hospitals?
3. Where are routine X-rays and lab tests performed? Can these be done in-office, or will you have to go to an outside lab?
4. How long must you wait for an appointment after you call? Can you be seen on the same day if you have an urgent need?
5. Is the office staff friendly and courteous?
6. If you call with a question about your care, does a doctor or nurse return the call promptly?
7. Who covers for the doctor when they are away? Whom should you call if you have a problem after-hours? If the doctor works in a group, are you comfortable with being seen by one of the practice partners?
8. Does the doctor frequently refer patients to specialists, or do they prefer to manage the majority of your care themselves?
9. Does the office process insurance claims, or must you pay up-front for services and file the claims yourself?
If you still aren’t sure about your choice, ask if you can make an “interview” appointment to speak with the doctor about your concerns. You may have to pay a co-payment or other fee for this service, but it can be a valuable way to gather information when making your decision.
1) Ask around
The first step to finding a great doctor is to talk to your family and friends about their great doctors. A recommendation from someone you trust is a great way to find a doctor. But remember that each person is different. Just because someone else loves their doctor doesn’t mean that the doctor is right for you.
2) Map it out
Find a doctor located conveniently close to home. You won’t want to travel very far when you’re not feeling well. If your doctor’s office is nearby, you may be more likely to keep appointments for preventive care when you’re healthy.
3) Make sure you have coverage
Gather a list of possible doctors. Then check whether they are covered by your insurance plan.
4) Do a quality check
When you hire someone to do work on your home, chances are you research the quality of their work. So why would you choose a doctor without doing the same? Try using the Physician Compare tool on Medicare.gov.
5) Place a cold call
Call a potential doctor’s office for a first impression. You can determine whether it may be a good fit for you by how you are treated on the phone. And also by how the office staff work to get you an appointment.
6) Ask about logistics
Ask about office practices to get a sense of how the doctor’s office is run. Questions could include:
· How does the office handle prescription refills?
· How do they let you know about test results?
7) Keep your needs in mind
Every person has unique health care needs, and those needs change as you age. Ask your doctor about his or her specialties or areas of interest. If you have complex medical needs, you may benefit from seeing a geriatrician. Geriatricians specialize in the care of older patients.
8) Look at the bigger picture
At your first visit, make sure your doctor’s view on patient care lines up with your own. If it does, you may be more likely to follow his or her recommendations. Take this into consideration when deciding whether to stick with a doctor after your first appointment.
9) Avoid culture shock
Every culture has its own customs and ideas about medical care. It’s important to find a doctor who speaks your language, and is also sensitive to your cultural and religious beliefs.
10) Trust your gut
Your primary care doctor is going to be an important advocate for your health. It’s critical that you trust him or her and feel comfortable asking questions.
Reflect on your appointment
The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends that after your first appointment, you ask yourself the following questions:
· Do you feel at ease with this doctor?
· Did you have enough time to ask questions?
· Did he or she answer all your questions?
· Did he or she explain things in a way you understood?
You should feel comfortable with your doctor. Trust your instincts – it’s okay to decide someone is not the right fit for you.