Healthcare has become more confusing and expensive than ever. Whether you’re a caregiver, parent, or patient, you want to find the best medical care possible.
There are more than 750,000 physicians and surgeons in the U.S. You don’t want to wait until you’re sick or have a major medical emergency on your hands to find the right doctor.
How can you take the steps now to find a great doctor?
Read on to learn how to find the right doctor to fit your needs.
Your Medical Needs
Choosing the right doctor really depends on your medical needs. There are a number of types of medical clinics and it’s easy to get confused by so many options.
Here are some of the most common types of doctors and clinics.
Primary Care Physician
A primary care physician is your main doctor. This is the person you see for minor issues like colds and nagging pains. You go to a primary care physician for regular check-ups as well.
If you need to get a vaccination or a flu shot, you can also get this done at your primary care physician’s office. One drawback is that there’s usually a wait to get an appointment. Some offices schedule a few days out or even a few weeks out.
A specialist is someone you would see for a specific issue. An optometrist is someone you go to for vision issues. An oncologist deals with cancer patients.
If you feel that you need to see a specialist, you may need a referral from your primary care physician. This will be determined by your health insurance plan.
Urgent Care Clinic
An urgent care clinic is a cross between a primary care physician’s office and the emergency room. An urgent care clinic can take care of issues pretty quickly.
An injury or illness may occur that requires immediate treatment. It’s not severe enough for the emergency room, but you don’t want to wait a week to get an appointment at a general practitioner, either.
That’s why you want to go to an urgent care clinic. Urgent care clinics are also much less expensive than going to the emergency room.
Medical Care Clinics
A medical clinic will have different services under one roof. You may have your primary care physician and several related practitioners in the same spot.
This type of arrangement works for doctors because they can refer patients to each other and they can share the costs of running a medical office.
The types of providers will vary. You may have several primary care physicians in one clinic, or you may have a general practitioner with a couple of related specialists. You may find that a general practitioner who works with athletes will have a chiropractor, massage therapist, and physical therapist in one clinic.
Alternative Health Clinic
There are also alternative health clinics. These are similar to medical care clinics, but the type of medicine practiced is different.
You’re likely to have a naturopath, acupuncturist, and massage therapist in one place. These practitioners are likely to use Eastern medicine philosophies in their treatment of patients.
Once you have determined your specific medical needs, you’re able to take the next step and find the best doctor for you.
How to Find the Right Doctor or Medical Clinic
Now that you have a better understanding of your needs and options available, here are a few tips you can use to select the right doctor or clinic.
Check the Insurance Coverage
You don’t want to make medical decisions based on money, but in today’s world, you have to do so. It could cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars if you don’t take insurance coverage into consideration.
Choose a doctor or medical clinic that is in your insurance company’s network. Many people choose a health plan that doesn’t cover their needs fully, which is why it’s important to double-check before selecting a doctor.
Search for Options
You could do a Google search for doctors in your area, but this will likely bring up more confusion. You can start your search online, though.
Start by checking your insurance company’s provider list. You can also ask for referrals from your friends, family, and colleagues.
Once you get a few names, compare that list with your network provider’s list. Hopefully, you’ll find a couple of names or clinics that match up.
Take a look at the websites of the doctors and clinics. You want to get an idea of the services they offer and their methods for treating patients.
Your state’s medical board is an invaluable resource in finding the best doctor in your area. All doctors and healthcare providers have to be certified to practice in your state.
The medical board will be able to tell you if the doctor is certified. More importantly, they’ll tell you if there are any marks or complaints against a doctor.
Patients are willing to tell others about the good experience they had with a doctor. They’re more likely to share a bad experience online, too.
These reviews will give you important insights as to whether or not a doctor’s office provides quality care or not.
Location, Location, Location
The location will matter as much as other factors, too. The further away your doctor is, the less motivated you’ll be to go.
You want to make sure that parking is easily accessible. This is especially important if you or your loved one has trouble getting around. You don’t want to have to hike for several blocks from your parking spot to get to the doctor’s office.
Ready to Choose a Doctor?
The healthcare industry has changed a lot from the days when doctors would routinely make house calls to patients.
Now, there are a lot of options to get the care that you or your loved one need. You can go to urgent care clinics, medical clinics, or to a primary care physician.
Knowing how to find the right doctor takes a few steps. You need to take your insurance into account and find a doctor in your network. Your doctor should be close and come highly recommended.
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