guide to choosing a doctor

Selecting a Physician 

Finding the right physician is an important task. You’re going to want someone with
whom you can build a long-term relationship. Here are some things to consider:

Assess your needs. What is most important to you?

  • Location – Do you want a physician close to your home or work? You may not feel like driving very far when you’re not feeling well.
  • Gender – Does the physician’s gender matter? Gender has no effect on care, but you may be more comfortable communicating with someone based on gender.
  • Inpatient care – Do you want a physician that provides inpatient care if you are hospitalized? (Some physicians use a hospitalist to care for their patients who are admitted to the hospital. A hospitalist is a physician who cares for hospitalized patients only.)

Consider the physician’s training and credentials.

  • Where did he/she attend medical school? Where did he/she complete residency training?
  • Is he/she board certified?
  • Go online to see if the doctor is in good standing with the state medical board and if there have been any disciplinary actions or criminal charges.
    In Missouri: www.pr.mo.gov/healingarts.asp  
    In Illinois: www.idfpr.com/dpr/WHO/med.asp

Find a physician who accepts your insurance.

  • Contact your insurance company and ask for a list of physicians in your plan, or call the physician’s office directly and ask if they accept your insurance.

Consider hospital and health care facility affiliation.

  • If you prefer a particular hospital, find out which doctors are affiliated with your preferred health care facilities.

Talk to friends and relatives.

  • How can you differentiate between physicians? Ask people you know if they would recommend their doctor or if they’ve heard about a good physician.

Would you like a physician who offers their patients online access to their health records?

  • Many physicians now use the electronic health record, offering their patients convenient, secure access to their own health record. Such access allows you to communicate online with your physician and to request an appointment, check test results, request prescription renewals and more – all without a phone call.

Call the physician’s office.

  • Take a “test drive.” Call the office to see if phones are answered quickly and
    politely. Find out if the physician is taking new patients and how long it takes to get in for a new patient visit.

Make an appointment.

  • If everything is falling into place, go ahead and make an appointment for a first visit. That way, you can meet the physician and decide whether he or she is a good fit for you. If you’re happy with your first encounter, you can return as an established patient.

Communicate.

  • Communication is a key factor in your health care. Make sure you are comfortable with the physician you select. If you are not, then keep looking.