Choosing a new doctor is one of those weird things in life that shouldn’t be complicated but is actually extremely complicated. Not only do you have to find a doc whose medical philosophy aligns with your own and one who’s equipped to handle your specific medical history, but you also have to consider which doctors are in your insurance network. It’s a multi-step process, and one that’s not at all straightforward. But once you’ve narrowed down the pool, you can find the perfect doctor if you know what qualities to look for. HealthSplash is on hand to make finding a doctor simple!
- She’s Empathetic—Good doctors need to be empathetic, at least that’s what the experts say. But, unfortunately, studies show that empathy tends to decrease throughout a doctor’s career, with erosion of empathy beginning as early as the third year of medical school. Still, empathy is linked to better care and more accurate diagnoses, so it’s a quality your GP should possess.
- She’s Well-Connected—Reputable medical professionals aren’t afraid of the digital revolution, and they understand that electronic health records are beneficial in the long-term. The best GPs are those who are up-to-date on technology. Look for signs of digital connectivity when you’re vetting your doc. Does he or she allow you to set appointments online or to communicate with the practice online? If the answer is yes, you’ve probably found a doctor who’s comfortable with technology.
- She Cares About Convenience—In the same vein, reputable doctors must be concerned about a patient’s happiness and must consider that, at the end of the day, the patient is a customer and should be treated as such. Tools like online scheduling, text message reminders and easy integration with the pharmacy can save the patient stress and headaches. When a doctor cares about patient convenience, it shows that he or she is empathetic and understanding.
- She Cares About Security—At the same time a doctor must be comfortable with digital technologies, he or she must also prioritize security. Safeguarding your personal information improves your trust in your GP. If you know that your information isn’t accessed by anyone who shouldn’t see it, you’re more likely to be totally open and honest with your doctor. When exploring your practitioner options, ask him or her what security measures are in place to protect your personal information.
- She’s Well-Vetted—We’d all like to get that perfect referral from a friend or family member, but often the best doctors are too far away, aren’t accepting new patients or are out of network. In such cases, use the next best thing—online doctor referral sites. These websites effectively act as the Yelp of healthcare, with patients writing reviews and offering up advice to potential new patients. Bad doctors won’t survive for very long online, so make sure you check reviews before committing to a new one.
- She’s Board-Certified—General practitioners are like any other kind of physician. They must go through rigorous medical training and may be board-certified in specific areas. However, since board-certification often indicates expertise in a specialty—for example, your doc might be board-certified in internal medicine or pediatrics—some general practitioners do not seek certification. But board certification ensures that doctors meet nationally set standards, which helps ensure a certain quality of care. It’s worth finding a doctor who put in extra time to become certified.
- She’s Honest—It’s hard to know from online reviews or initial interviews whether or not a practitioner is totally honest but overlooking this quality could leave you with high bills and additional risk factors. Reputable doctors are forthright about their intentions and will tell you if they receive payments—otherwise known as “kickbacks”—if they prescribe you certain medications. Honest doctors should also be candid about your medical condition without sugar-coating a diagnosis.
At the end of the day, you’ll be able to tell whether or not your potential new doctor is a good fit through face-to-face interaction. It’s important to keep in mind that reputable doctors should have integrity and character, as it could mean the difference between good care and an ongoing quest for the perfect practitioner. These qualities will help you sort the good doctors from the bad apples.