How to Choose a Physician
To find a physician who is right for you, begin by thinking about what is important to you.
You may want a doctor with an office near your home or who specializes in treating patients with a particular condition. Many people are interested in which hospitals have granted the physician admitting privileges. You may want to review the physician’s educational background, professional affiliations or other credentials.
If you are insured through a private insurance plan, look at their list of participating physicians – location and specialty are available to help you focus your search. Other ways to identify candidates include the phone book, hospital referral centers, and word of mouth from people you trust.
Other people who share the same health concerns you do, and have experience with doctors in your community may be helpful in your search. If you belong to a support group for a health condition you can ask other members of the group about their experiences with local doctors.
If you are looking for a specialist, your primary care physician is a good source of expert advice. If you are in a managed care plan and are seeking a specialist, you will likely need a referral from your primary care doctor before going to your first appointment.
Now that you have narrowed your search you can look into the backgrounds of several candidates further. The Palm Beach County Medical Society credentials its members and maintains a data bank of information about its' member physicians. Callers and visitors to its' Website can obtain information not only as to the specialty of member doctors, but where they received their education and other credentials.
Palm Beach County Medical Society
561-433-3940 Toll Free from North Palm Beach County
561-276-3636 Toll Free from South Palm Beach County
Information, including specialty, location, education and more, is available about all physicians in the state of Florida from its' Medical Quality Assurance office. Medical Quality Assurance (State of Florida)
Website: http://www.doh.state.fl.us/mqa/Profiling/index.html and use the Practitioner Profile Search System
The next step is to make a selection and call that physician’s office. You will want to ask if the doctor is accepting new patients and confirm that he or she is still participating in your health plan, if this is appropriate. Provider panels for health plans can change throughout the year. When you first meet with a physician, openly discuss any questions or concerns you may have. It is helpful to prepare a list of questions. Too frequently patients leave a doctor’s office only to realize they forgot to ask about something that is important to them. Write your questions down and bring the list with you to the visit. Not only will you be sure to ask everything you had in mind, you may be glad you took the time to put into words a difficult problem that you are not accustomed to speaking about.
You may want to ask about office policies such as when they are open, how to get prescriptions renewed, getting referrals to a specialist, and billing practices. You may also inquire about the doctor’s experience in caring for patients with your specific condition. Although the doctor may not have all the answers, by asking questions you will be able to see how he or she listens and responds to your concerns and how willing they are to help you find the answers.