The beginning of each year starts the same - intentions to eat better, exercise, and get healthy. My newsfeed has been inundated with pictures and recipes of healthy food, exercise programs, and tips for being mindful since January 1st. All of this is great and helpful for those of us who endeavor to live a healthy and well-balanced life. But one thing that seems to be forgotten is lining up your medical care. Perhaps it has been a while since you last went to the doctor. Maybe your doctor has retired or no longer accepts your insurance. Or, you could be new to an area and haven’t found your physician yet. Whatever the reason, now is the time to find "Dr. Right."
The wrong way to find a doctor
I have moved around a lot over the past 12 years, usually because of work obligations. The moves tended to be out-of-state and cross-country, so I gained a lot of experience in finding new doctors.
I can say, hands down, the worst way to find a doctor is by blankly thumbing through the 100 page alphabetical directory the insurance provider sends you. Yes, it is a great reference point to ensure the doctor you are interested in accepts your plan or new patients (just remember to make a follow up call with the doctor to make sure they haven’t left your plan since the printing) but other than names and addresses, no other information is provided about the doctor. I’ve spent many hours staring at these lists trying to find a doctor who “sounds good.” After I found a name that sounded interesting to me, I would Google their name to see what I could find.
Sometimes you can find reviews on websites like healthgrades.com, Yelp, or Google, but often these reviews are incomplete and either sway overly negative (if someone had a bad experience) or overly positive (office staff trying to boost reviews). So while these reviews are nice to read, they need to be taken with a grain of salt as they are often not the most reliable reviews.
Finding Dr. Right the right way
Honestly, the best way to find a new doctor is to ask for referrals. I know it sounds simple but the best doctors and dentists I have found have been from personal recommendations. When I move to a new area I always ask my coworkers or the spouses of my husband’s coworkers for recommendations on doctors and dentists – this is a great starting point because, most likely, we are on the same insurance plans! I’m not shy when it comes to asking for recommendations for service providers. I would rather ask a stranger for a recommendation than pick someone off of a piece of paper. My opinion is that if someone has been vetted by another person then that is better than using my visit as the “test’” visit to find out if this doctor is “the one.”
Not working? No worries! I’ve also asked my realtor, librarian, neighbor and church friends.
If you are shy and not wanting to start up a conversation with a stranger, you could also utilize the internet. I see people doing this often on Facebook, especially on closed interest groups such as moms of “your city,” where moms provide feedback – good or bad– on doctors in your network. Another place I see people asking for doctor recommendations is on neighborhood apps such as Nextdoor. In a sense, these are your neighbors and they could provide you reference points to jumpstart your search. People like to talk about their experiences if given the chance. So ask for help and take some of the guesswork out of your doctor search.
Take Command is here to help
Still struggling to understand your insurance coverage or finding a plan that your doctor will accept? Take Command Health can help. Our mission is to help you make smart health insurance decisions and save money. Visit our site for our easy to use doctor search tool and find health plans that fit your needs.