This section is dedicated to researching and choosing a doctor with special consideration for patients with somewhat rare or unusual conditions. Medical and FDA Disclaimers Below.
Rx for: Finding the Right Dr.
*Source information: Shaner, C.L. (2008). Looking for Dr. Right. Fibromyalgia Aware, Special Aware, Special Issue. Pp. 2-5.
Step 1: Know Your Requirements
Step 2: Make a List of Potential Doctors
Step 3: Make Phone Calls
Step 4: Interview Potential Doctors
Step 5: Check the Credentials
Step 6: Speak with Your Insurance Company
Step 7: Schedule an Appointment with a Doctor
Would you buy a car or home without first researching it? Like with any big purchase, one should always “shop around” when looking for “Dr. Right.” Here’s how to get started:
Note: If you don’t find a doctor you like right away, don’t be discouraged. Visit him/her a few times and if it doesn’t work out for you, go to another one. Keep trying and you will soon find the perfect fit.
Step 1: Know Your Requirements.
Most chronic illness sufferers have unique needs that must be treated by a doctor familiar with his/her symptoms and conditions. It is essentials to the decision-making process.
Be sure to ask yourself these questions:
Do I Need a Specialist/Referral?
How Far Can I Safely Drive/Travel?
Does My Insurance Restrict Who I Can See or Where I Can Go?
Step 2: Make a List of Potential Doctors.
Compile a list of the names and numbers of potential doctors that you would like to consider interviewing (see Step 4) and who interest you. Leave space for future comments and notes, and to record appointment times and dates.
Sources for locating doctors/specialists:
Your Health Insurance Company (Online or Customer Service)
Local Online Support Groups (Facebook is a great resource!)
Word of Mouth (Relatives, Neighbors, Co-Workers, etc.)
State and County Medical Societies
Online: http:health.usnews.com/doctors; Web Searches (Ex. Google)
Hospital Referral Services
🙂 Your Disease/Syndrome’s National Association 🙂
Note: Being proactive in your healthcare decision-making process is key to treatment of rare/unusual disease/syndromes.
Step 3: Make Phone Calls.
Call the office manager of each doctor on the list. Make sure you leave a message that you are a potential patient and would like to speak with the office manager about the doctor and the office. Speaking with the manager will free up your more important questions with your time with your doctor.
Questions for the Office Manager:
If the building handicap accessible?
What are the office houses and locations?
How long are new patient appointments?
In case of emergency or hospitalizations, who will see me?
Is there a fee for an interview with a doctor?
Do any of the doctors treat my condition?
How many people with my condition do they treat?
Are you accepting new patients?
Does your office participate with my insurance? Will it next year? If I can go onto medical assistance, can I continue to see my doctor?
What is your policy on working out a payment plan if I fall onto hard times?
Which doctor do you think will best suit my needs? (Explain style you’re looking for – ex. Direct)
Note: Before you hang up with the office manager: Ask to make an appointment to interview a doctor in which you interested or one he or she recommends. Make it clear that you want a NO-COST interview, not an exam.
Step 4: Interview Potential Doctors.
Be prepared for a 10-15 minute interview. Hand the potential doctor two lists: current medications and medical problem and/or symptoms. Be brief. Also, come with a list of questions.
Questions to Ask the Doctor:
Are you comfortable diagnosing and treating my condition?
How many people have you treated with my condition?
Are you familiar with my condition and its related conditions?
What medications do you usually prescribe for my conditions?
Do you have a problem with any of the medications I am currently taking? What is your policy on refills, specifically with narcotics?
What is your opinion on homeopathic remedies, alternative care, herbal supplements – be specific.
What do you feel is adequate pain control?
How can we best communicate? (Some medical groups have patient portals that allow you to speak with doctors through messages)
Do you teach or present at any conferences?
How will my monthly disability papers be handled?
Would you be interested in reviewing new research and informational articles I find on my condition?
Step 5: Check the Credentials.
Many new and old patients overlook this vital step. You should always know who is treating you and if he/she has had any serious legal claims made against him/her. A lawsuit does not necessarily mean a doctor is incompetent – he or she may have taken on challenging cases. Use your discretion.
Here’s Where to Look:
State or County Medical Society
From What Companies Have Potential Doctors Accepted Money? (check out note below.)
Note: It’s essential that patients know as much as they can about their doctor, including from which companies he or she has accepted money. This is important because some doctors may have ties to pharmaceutical companies, which could influence medical advice or prescriptions. Check out:
Step 6: Speak with Your Insurance Company.
Make sure you have the most up-to-date information on your insurance coverage. You can check your online account and call the customer service rep for details.
Questions for the Insurance Company:
Are these doctors on my plan?
Do I need a referral to see any of them?
If they are not on the plan, what is the policy for seeing a doctor out-of-network?
Step 7: Schedule an Appointment with a Doctor.
Make sure that when you are a new patient at any facility, you have your medical records sent over in advance so that your new doctor can review them before your initial examination. Remember also to bring your insurance card, referral (if necessary), and a form of ID to your visit.
Bring Papers to the Doctor (Preferably Typed):
A summary of your complete medical history. Be as concise as possible.
A complete medication list that includes prescriptions, herbal supplements, vitamins, over-the-counter and topical medications, and allergies, and/or bad reactions to the medications.
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Medical and FDA Disclaimers:
Common Sense dictates that the following is now added: Please note that recommended reading and its practicum, product information, physical therapies, and any and all advice presented in this collection is intended for the convenience of the reader. For advice on medical issues you should always consult your local medical practitioner.
The products and their practicum shown on this website or discussed in our communications have not been evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Those seeking treatment for a specific disease should consult a qualified physician.