Choosing a Health Provider - 4 Features to Find First

Alex Bettencourt - October 26, 2011

Office worker studying reports

Choosing a healthcare provider can be difficult. Sure, a patient needs a provider in line with their needs—one can’t get dental work from an oncologist. However, once a list of applicable providers is generated it can be difficult to narrow it down. Use these helpful pointers when choosing a healthcare provider.

Insurance Coverage
Insurance plans only accept services from certain doctors and vice versa. An insurance company will provide a list of which dentists, physicians, or specialists they partner with in each area. It’s important that this list be the starting point when choosing a provider. A patient does not want to start building a relationship with a doctor s/he cannot pay for. One should take the list of providers and carefully research highly skilled physicians available.

Provider Expertise
Whether a doctor is a specialist or generalist, a prospective patient should consider a physician’s training. A few Internet searches can easily yield his or her credibility, including degrees or certifications. Knowing a doctor’s specialties can help narrow down choices for a physician.

Finding a doctor who has a special interest or experience in a certain area, say feet and joints, can be advantageous to a patient facing ankle issues. Perhaps he or she doesn’t require a specialist, but would appreciate the doctor’s niche.

Location of a Service
If an individual needs a specialist it can be difficult to find one close by. How close a patient wants to be to a doctor’s office may depend on how frequently visits occur and how urgent those visits are. If a patient sees a specialist once a year for a scheduled checkup then proximity is not as much of an issue as it would be for a patient that may need immediate care.

Provider Personality
The doctor’s office can be a place where people become afraid to ask questions. Patients are worried they will be judged, looked down upon or come off as distrusting if they question their doctor. Learning how to interact with patients is a strenuous part of doctors’ educations because it is crucial to how effective they are as a care provider.

One should only build a relationship with a doctor that she/he feels comfortable with, whether you prefer a doctor who gets down to business or one who gives extensive explanations and multiple options for treatments.

Providers should have a comforting personality and be willing to answer all patient questions and concerns. Having a provider that truly cares may make the difference between positive and negative visits, but it can also translate into more effective treatments. When it comes to handling healthcare there are numerous ways to find assistance, from disability equipment to services that organize your medical information, but a skilled, engaging and available doctor is one of the best allies a patient can have.

*This post was written by Nan Gibbons. Nan is a fitness expert and marketer who loves traveling the world to advise at sporting events. When she’s stateside, she enjoys spending time volunteering at environmental organizations and spending time with her lab mix, Cody.

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