“Doctor shopping” was once looked down upon as patients were supposed to simply take their doctor’s opinion as final. Today, with health care costs climbing, and patients feeling that they want their doctor to better understand their concerns, seeking a new medical provider has become more common.
“In recent years, patients have become more empowered to demand both good care, and a good attitude,” Dr. Mikkael Sekeres, director of the leukemia program at the Cleveland Clinic, was reported to have said in a New York Times article.
To find a new doctor, there are a number of steps you can take.
1) First, interview your friends, and even acquaintances who you think might be helpful in your search for a new doctor who fits. Also, if you are currently seeing any other doctors for other conditions, ask them who they would recommend.
2) Check with the local hospital you would plan to go to if you were sick, about doctors who have admitting privileges there. That way the doctor you find will be able to manage your care directly if you are admitted.
3) Find out if the doctor you decide to see is board certified. Board certification means a doctor has at least three years of additional training in that specialty, and has passed a certifying exam.
"Now it doesn't guarantee they're a great doctor," John Connolly, co-publisher of America's Top Doctors, said in a Bankrate article. "But at least it assures you they've had the appropriate training for that specialty."
You can find contact information for the 24 members of the American Board of Medical Specialties here.
4) When you call to make your appointment with a new doctor, be prepared to ask the staff various questions. Start by asking to speak to the office manager and then inquire about the following:
- Is this doctor in your health plan?
- How much experience does the doctor have with patients who have your condition?
- How long does it take to get follow-up appointments?
- What hours does the doctor see patients, and in off hours, how are emergencies handled?