When most of us find out that we need to see a specialist for medical attention, we typically turn directly to our primary care physician or reach out to people we know personally to provide a recommendation. Seeing a specialty doctor usually means that something is either wrong or needing the attention of a specialist. This is serious and it is a decision that should be taken on with care. You don’t necessarily have to take the first name that your primary care physician recommends to you.
Here are four tips to find a truly exceptional medical specialist in your area.
Determine What Kind of Specialist You Need
This may sound obvious, but the first thing you want to do is get highly specific about what type of specialist you need. This is a great time to talk to your primary care physician. Many physicians specialize in certain verticals, but they also can have niche sub-specialties in those verticals. For example, if you are having digestive issues, there may be a specialist with a precise sub-focus that would be the best fit for the particular issues you are having.
Determine Which Specialists Are in Network
Here comes the non-fun part. You don’t need to waste your time researching specialists that aren’t in network with your insurance unless you are prepared to pay a great deal out of pocket. You can typically get a general list from your insurance company of specialists that are in network. This will be good to have on hand as you do further research.
Do Your Homework on the Doctor before You Make an Appointment
This is the part where it’s your job to do the research. There are many websites, like Healthgrades, that allow you to read a great deal of information about the specialist’s background, any niche sub-specialties and their professional accolades. You can also look to credible websites like these for online reviews. These reviews from past patients can help you gain insight into how the specialist interacts with their patients and their approach to treatment. You want to find a doctor with high success rates and doesn’t have a negative past. All of this will be helpful as you decide on a specialist to make a one-on-one appointment with.
Call to Make an Appointment and Evaluate the Process
Once you have selected a specialist or two, you will want to call and schedule an appointment with them. This is where you should be taking note of the appointment process. For example, is their staff responsive? Can you see them within a few weeks or is their next availability months out? Seeing a specialist is a partnership and you want to look out for any red flags that they won’t receive your full time or are difficult to get an appointment with.
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