Are you happy with your current family doctor? And, if not, do you know what to look for if you want to make a switch? Patient choice is all the rage these days, and an important part of the American healthcare system. But, without the right information, it’s hard to make that choice. So, the idea of this article is to give you the info you need to make a better decision about choosing your family doctor. Let’s take a closer look.
First of all, it doesn’t matter how much you like a doctor, if they aren’t in your insurance network, it’s going to cause a problem. If this is the case, you have a couple of options. First of all, you could ask your doctor of choice to start accepting patients from your network. If you want that physician, you’ll need to work hard for it. Otherwise, it’s a case of waiting out your insurance period and finding out which networks they do serve. Sure, it can be irritating – but if you are happy with a particular doctor, you should not let insurance policies get in the way.
You should also ask about service fees, and how much you will be expected to pay. These can come as a big surprise if you aren’t prepared, and your insurance doesn’t cover them. There will be issues of completing documents on your behalf, for example. And, they may have a co-payment system that you haven’t experienced before. All these little things can soon add up over the course of a year or so – especially when you have kids.
By law, medical practitioners have to keep your records private. They will need to go under a regular HIPAA risk assessment to ensure they are following those regulations. But, are they enough? Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor about their privacy procedures, and ask them if they have experienced problems before. Sometimes, it’s not just the electronic records that are an issue. A careless secretary could leave important notes on a counter, or an office could be left unlocked. It’s essential that you do some digging to make sure that you are in safe hands.
It’s also important to find out the average time it takes to make an appointment. Clearly, the best surgeries have a fast turnaround. But, not all the fast practices will give you the best service. There’s a fine line between speed and effective treatment. So, make sure you check your practitioner’s records for both scenarios.
It’s not just appointment times that you need to watch out for. While the surgery could excel in quick turnover, if your doctor isn’t there, it might not make much difference to you. So, always ask about your doctor’s availability. How often are they in practice? Do they have a lot of home visits to fulfill? And, in the event they aren’t around, who will you see instead? You will need to be comfortable with that doctor, too – as will your family.
Hope this has helped – feel free to offer any more advice if you have it!