Maybe you now have insurance coverage as a result of the Affordable Care Act – either through Washington state’s insurance exchange or Medicaid – but do you have a doctor? Dr. Ankur Rana of Pacific Crest Family Medicine appeared on KIT 1280 on Jan. 7, 2014, to discuss the things you should ask when you’re shopping for a physician. If you’re new to Yakima, you may find this information helpful as well.
Choosing a new physician can be difficult, but knowing your needs will go a long way toward helping you find the right doctor for you. So how do you choose a doctor?
A good first step is to ask for recommendations. Ask friends, family, coworkers who they might recommend in the community. It’s always a good start. But there’s a key thing to remember: Your insurance plan may restrict your choices to certain physicians approved by the plan, or it may offer financial incentives for you to use doctors affiliated with the plan. Always check the terms of your insurance coverage to find out whether your plan will covers visits to the physician you are considering. Or better yet, get the list of doctors in your plan and start your search there.
What are some of the questions I should ask to find out more about the doctor and the practice?
- What is their philosophy of medicine? Do they take a holistic approach?
- How many years has the doctor been in practice?
- Does the physician frequently refer patients to specialists or does he or she prefer to manage most of your care? Does the doctor have any subspecialties?
- Is it a solo or group practice? If group, how often will you see other doctors in the practice, and are you comfortable with being seen by one of the practice partners?
- What evening or weekend hours are available?
- Are calls for routine/non-emergent questions encouraged? And how promptly can you expect a return call if you call with a question about your care?
- Where are routine x-rays and laboratory tests performed? Can these be done in-office, or will you have to go to an outside laboratory?
- What is the standard waiting time for an appointment? Can you be seen on the same day if you have an urgent need?
- Is the office staff friendly and courteous?
- Where is the practice located? Will it be easy for you to get there? Is it accessible by public transportation if necessary?
Your relationship with your primary care providers is a very personal one. People look for different things in a doctor, and taking the time to find out more about a doctor in advance can help you determine if it’s a good match. There are also a few things to consider about your interaction.
- Did you like the doctor’s communication style?
- Does the doctor’s personality suit you?
- Outgoing or quiet. Aggressive or laid-back. A good listener.
Should I see a family practitioner or a pediatrician?
It’s really a question of choice. Pediatricians focus on children, while family practitioners treat patients from birth to death, which means adults and seniors, not just children and adolescents.