Choosing a primary care doctor is one of the most important health decisions you’ll make. And thanks in part to the Affordable Care Act, which has dramatically increased the number of people with health insurance, more people than ever are now searching for a physician they can call their own.
“Unfortunately, it’s hard to find reliable, easy-to-understand information about specific doctors or practices,” Doris Peter, Ph.D., director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center, said. “Sure, you can check out physician reviews on sites such as Yelp and Angie’s List, but do you really want to find a de way you do a restaurant or plumber? Probably not.”
Still, there are strategies and resources that can help you find a new doctor or check up on one you already have. Here’s why it’s so important to find a good primary care doctor, what to focus on in your search, and where to go for the information you need.
Get a Go-To Doctor
More and more insurance plans require that you choose one physician to serve as your main resource. That go-to person can not only help you with day-to-day health problems such as the flu or a sprained ankle but also refer you to specialists when necessary and, important, oversee all of the care you get.
“It may seem like a burden or restrictive to have to choose a primary care provider,” Orly Avitzur, M.D., medical director at Consumer Reports, said. “But everyone needs a project manager, so to speak, to help you navigate our confusing health care system.”
Growing research suggests that people who have a strong relationship with a physician not only report greater satisfaction with their care but also may enjoy better health. That makes sense, because having good communication and collaboration with the doctor who oversees your care can help make sure you get the tests and treatments you need, and avoid common problems, such as getting duplicative or contradictory treatments from a legion of specialists.
Let the Search Begin
If you know a doctor, nurse, or healthcare professional, ask for the names of doctors or practices in your area whom they like and trust. That can be more insightful than recommendations from friends or family. You should also consider what kind of dily? Someone who focuses on women or older people (see below)? Here are some other things to consider as you search for Dr. Right:
- Check your insurance: Use your insurer’s directory or search on its website for doctors in your network. Because doctors often add or drop plans, call the office to verify that the doctor still accepts your insurance.
- Consider hospital affiliation: Your choice of doctor can determine which hospital you go to, if needed, so find out where the doctor has admitting privileges. Then use our hospital ratings to see how that facility compares with other hospitals in your area.
- Look for board certification: Being certified through the American Board of Medical Specialties means a doctor has earned a medical degree from a qualified medical school, completed three to seven years of accredited residency training, is licensed by a state medical board, and has passed one or more exams administered by a member of the ABMS. To maintain the certification, a doctor is expected to participate in continuing education. To see whether a doctor is certified, go to .
- Watch out for red flags: They include malpractice claims and disciplinary actions. Even good doctors can get sued once or twice, but “you certainly don’t want someone who has had a lot of malpractice claims,” Avitzur saysmon reasons for being disciplined include substance abuse and inappropriate sexual behavior https://besthookupwebsites.org/christian-connection-review/, though it can be hard to know exactly why a doctor was sanctioned. Most states let doctors practice while they receive treatment.