The Doctor is IN
In today’s healthcare delivery system, most insurance plans require you to choose a “primary care physician” to be the go-to person for routine medical care and to refer you to specialists when you need them. When it’s time to choose a new doc, it may be helpful to view yourself as an employer who’s interviewing candidates for an important job.
• To avoid high out-of-pocket costs, check your insurance company’s website or booklet for a list of doctors within your network.
• If you’re on Medicare, visit their Physician Compare site to find a doctor who accepts Medicare.
• If you know a doctor, nurse or health care professional, ask for their recommendations.
• Look for board certification through the American Board of Medical Specialties. This means a doctor has earned a medical degree from a qualified medical school, completed three to seven years of accredited residency training, is licensed by a state medical board and has passed one or more exams administered by a member of the ABMS. To maintain the certification, a doctor is expected to participate in continuing education.
• Look for red flags such as malpractice claims and disciplinary actions. Consumer Reports provides a state-by-state list of links to resources for checking up on doctors.
Call the top candidates
Both Consumer Reports and the Center for Advancing Health suggest asking these questions before making a first appointment: • Is the doctor taking new patients?
• How long will it take to get an appointment?
• How long do appointments last?
• Can you get lab work and x-rays done in the office?
• If you are more comfortable speaking to a doctor in a language besides English, is there a doctor or nurse who speaks that language?
• Does the doctor offer evening or weekend appointments?
The first appointment
Ask your doctor:
• Who covers your patients when you are not available?
• What special training do you have in my specific medical conditions (such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, HIV or other chronic disease)?
• How do you view the doctorpatient relationship — is it a “partnership” or do you expect me to follow orders without question? The answer to this question can give you valuable insight into how the doctor will act and react to your concerns.
After this first appointment, ask yourself if the doctor and office staff made you feel comfortable, spent enough time with you and answered your questions clearly. Did you feel listened to and respected? If not, you may want to keep looking.
Biatris Barrera, left, and Rachel Goodman are shown at Presbyterian Española Hospital. The native New Mexicans, both new physicians who trained at the University of New Mexico, decided to start their careers in Española to help improve the care of...