The relationship you develop with your doctor plays an essential role in improving health outcomes and the overall quality of the medical act. After all, you have to trust that your physician will put all their skills and knowledge at your service and do everything in their power to provide quality services and always act in your best interest. As experts at Medical Negligence Law point out, you have a right to expect safe and effective treatment when you go to the doctor or visit a hospital. So, choosing a health provider who can offer the care and support you require and be by your side throughout your healthcare journey is a decision that you should consider and handle with great care.
However, it’s not exactly easy to find healthcare professionals that have both impressive skills and knowledge, and the right attitude that allows you to build a healthy doctor-patient relationship. These types of doctors do exist, don’t be mistaken, but you have to know how to search for them and spot them in the crowd. One of the best ways to streamline the search process and find a physician that is a good fit for you is by asking the right questions. This should help you gain insights into their training, qualifications, experience, and approach, and allow you to make an informed decision.
So, here’s a list of the main questions and points you should touch on when looking for a new healthcare provider.
What are their qualifications and experience?
All doctors have to undergo years of rigorous training in order to earn a medical license so they can practice medicine. This obviously differs depending on their area of specialisation. While some physicians stop at the minimum training required, others choose to further their education and advance their skills and expertise in a particular area.
Medicine is an ever-evolving field, which means that for health professionals, learning never stops. So, apart from checking a doctor’s education and licenses, you should also inquire about additional certifications. If your health concerns are very specific, you should look for a doctor who has extensive expertise and experience in that area.
What is their communication style?
Although a doctor’s training and certifications play a definitory role in determining their suitability, the way they treat and interact with their patients also weighs heavily in the grand scheme of things. A doctor can have all the skills and knowledge in the world, but if they don’t have proper bedside manners and don’t know how to communicate with their patients, it can lead to a lot of discontent and frustration, and that’s not the kind of relationship you want to have with the person who’s responsible for your health.
Some doctors simply give out instructions without taking the time to explain why that’s the best course of action, others get patients involved in the decision-making process and explain to them all their options. Certain providers also offer patients the possibility to communicate with them through an online portal, to ensure greater convenience and accessibility. You should ask potential health providers about their approach to treating patients and their communication style from the get-go, so you’ll know exactly what to expect from them.
How do they handle emergencies?
When a sudden illness or a medical emergency occurs, you want to be able to get in touch with your physician as fast as possible – obviously after contacting emergency services, if the situation requires it.
Even if you’ve already been to the ER and received medical attention, you still have to tell your doctor what happened, so you should inquire about their policies on handling emergencies. What happens if you call on short notice or if you contact them after office hours? Will there be someone at their office to provide assistance when they’re not there? Knowing that you can talk to your doctor or someone from their care team at any given hour can offer reassurance and peace of mind.
What are their schedule and availability?
Hopefully, you won’t require your doctor’s assistance outside office hours, but you do have to find out about their schedule and availability. Each physician has certain days of the week when they see patients, and a certain time set aside for taking phone calls. Certain doctors also make house calls, in case their patients are unable to travel to their office.
Making appointments is another important aspect you should ask about. The last thing you want is to call the doctor’s office for an appointment only to find out that the next opening is weeks away. Scheduling appointments can be a hassle, especially if you’re not familiar with the doctor’s timetable and procedures, so don’t forget to discuss these aspects when vetting potential physicians.
Do they accept health insurance?
Medical services come at a price, and a lot of times they can be extremely expensive, so not everyone can afford to pay for the care and treatments they need. Fortunately, we’ve got health insurance to solve part of the problem and reduce out-of-pocket costs.
However, health-insurance policies vary widely, depending on a number of factors, so you have to know exactly what your insurance is covering. Additionally, not all doctors accept health insurance, and some only work with limited insurers, so things can get a bit tricky in this respect. If you don’t want to end up paying astronomical bills for healthcare services, make sure you understand how health insurance works and find out if the doctor you’re considering accepts your insurance.
A thorough conversation with each physician before deciding if they’re a good fit for you or not can save you a lot of trouble. Write down all the things you want to ask to make sure you don’t leave anything out and don’t hesitate to address each topic or concern that’s relevant to you in the process of finding a new doctor.