Finding a doctor or other health care provider who is right for you can be difficult.
You might start by asking yourself:
- What qualities should I look for in a provider?
- How do I evaluate a provider I haven’t been seen by before?
- Is it OK to tell a provider to change something he or she is doing to better suit me?
These basic guidelines and resources may help you find a doctor right for you.
Dr. Brandon Parkhurst, Patient Experience medical director at Marshfield Clinic, said a good way for patients to determine what they want in a provider is to think about what they expect from their medical care.
“For example, most patients want a provider who is collaborative and allows the patient to take an active role in their health care,” Parkhurst said. Patients should communicate openly about their preferences and health goals with their provider.
Parkhurst added that patients can start an appointment with a provider by making clear what they want to cover during that appointment. After an appointment, patients should think about whether or not their expectations were met.
Feel free to try different providers
Sometimes a provider is not right for you, but you might feel odd looking for a new provider in the same department. Parkhurst said patients should feel comfortable transferring care to another provider.
It’s your health. It’s your decision,” Parkhurst said. “And, as a provider, if I’m not a good fit for a patient, I want that patient to find someone who is. I want them to have the best, most productive experience they can.”
Parkhurst also encourages patients to ask family and friends about their experiences with providers to get useful information.
Is there a way to evaluate providers before I come in?
While there’s no substitute for going to a doctor’s office and interacting with a provider, there are tools that can lead you to the right provider before you leave home.
Marshfield Clinic offers provider ratings on its public website, which are derived from patient surveys. Providers rate from one to five stars based on feedback from patients who have seen that provider. Accompanying the ratings are patient comments, which also come from these surveys.
Some popular provider rating websites have only a few reviews for a given provider over several years. Marshfield Clinic has hundreds of reviews for many of its providers, and the ratings are updated monthly with new patient feedback.
Parkhurst said Marshfield Clinic is one of few health systems in the U.S. to make this information available to the public.