Trying to find a doctor isnt as easy as it used to be. You have to reconcile the health needs of your family with your insurance companys physicians network and the availability of doctors in your local community. Once you locate a doctor that meets those criteria, you have to determine if you and your feel comfortable with him or her. If not, then the process starts all over again. If you live in a large community, this process can take time but at least you have a number of choices. For people who live in smaller communities, choices are limited to only a few and, in some cases, only one physician with whom you might be stuck.
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The first step is to find a doctor by insurance company directories. Your health insurance carrier has a list of physicians that are in their health care network. Go through that list and start with the physicians that are closest to you. Make sure their office hours work with your schedule, and check that they provide all of the services you family will require. In some cases, you might need to use one doctor for the adults in the family and another for the children.
When you have a list of doctors that are close to you, you should then begin to seek referrals. Ask you current specialists, as they will know which doctors have a good reputation and which ones do not. Try asking your friends and neighbors as well to get a patients perspective. The American Medical Association is a great source of information, and has a doctor finder service on their website that is connected to a database of over 800,000 doctors. You can also contact the state board of health to verify that the doctor is in good standing and doesnt have any pending disciplinary actions.
If you are lucky enough to find a family doctor in your area, that might be your best bet. Most doctors now specialize in certain areas of medicine. Family doctors are general practitioners who are able to attend to the health needs of the entire family. While they might still have an area of specialty, that area is not their exclusive focus. Some family doctors choose to specialize in pediatrics or sports medicine, yet accept all patients into their practice.
Once you find a doctor that meets the needs of your family, you need to build a rapport with them. Start by setting an appointment for an initial visit to discuss your general health concerns. The doctor might send you and your family for some tests to give them more information. During that initial visit, you should be assessing the doctors willingness and ability to answer questions. If you do not feel comfortable, do not be afraid to choose another doctor. The quality of your health care might depend on it.
The quest to find a family doctor can come up for a number of reasons. Families move, and need to find a new doctor in their new home towns. Older doctors retire. Sometimes, a family just becomes dissatisfied with the quality of care they receive from their family physician. Whatever the reason, finding a new doctor is a process that takes time if done correctly. Referrals are a key to the process. Checking references and credentials are also both important steps to the process. The end result should be that the family finds a doctor that is both convenient and capable. Knowing that you can trust your doctor gives you family peace of mind. With a small time investment, you should be able to find one close enough to not be a hassle and good enough to be trusted.