If you’ve recently moved to a new area, changed insurance providers, or simply had an problem with your past general practitioner, you will need to find a new general practitioner. But developing a plan based on a simple system that works for you will help you simplify the issue. Joshua Odum offers some helpful ways to narrow down your search for the general practitioner who is right for you.
Find physicians contracted by your insurance company- The benefits of seeing a general practitioner contracted through your health insurance over an out-of-network GP cannot be overstated. If you see an out-of-network provider for a general consultation, you will almost certainly be stuck with the entire cost of treatment. If you see an out-of-network provider in emergencies, insurers are required to treat this care as if it is in-network, but the provider itself will still bill you. All insurance companies will provide a list of physicians who are a part of their network and will honor the rates the company has negotiated with them. This list can often be organized by location, allowing you to see the providers in your network who are closest to you. If you have health insurance, your search will be narrowed down considerably to a set of doctors who have a special relationship with your insurance, and who you will not have to pay out-of-pocket to visit. If you know a hospital that accepts your insurance, you can also check the hospital’s website for profiles of doctors who work with them.
Get recommendations from friends- If you have friends who have lived in your area for a long time, they will certainly have opinions about one or more general practitioners who have treated them, and be able to provide you with more information than a website bio or online review. Many people who have lived in one area for a long time have seen the same doctor for many years. Your best bet to see how a general practitioner interacts with and treats real patients would be to ask a friend or coworker who has received their treatment.
Consider your preexisting conditions and specific needs- Despite the name general practitioner, many primary care doctors will have specific specialties and areas of particular expertise. As such, you should assess your preexisting conditions and compare them with the experience and expertise of general practitioners you are considering. If you have a specific health condition, organizations that offer assistance to individuals with that condition will often provide resources that help you find local general practitioners who are the best prepared to treat your specific condition.
Look for doctors who are accepting new patients- Obviously, if a doctor you are considering is not interested in accepting new patients, you won’t have much luck trying to book an appointment with them. Check the doctor’s website, or call, to determine whether they are accepting new patients or not.
Read online reviews… With a caveat- Both Yelp and Zocdoc compile reviews of doctors written by their real patients. However, consider this: patients are far more likely to take the time to complain about a problem they experienced than to write a positive review. Though there may be a disproportionate amount of bad reviews to good ones, the reviews you find can still tell you a lot about the doctor in question. If there are many negative reviews that mention the same problem, or if the reviewers mention a problem that is very important to you, that can be criteria to cause you to consider different options.
Check our local healthcare provider listings- For those in the Nashville area, the Nashville Health and Wellness Magazine provides a list of local general practitioners and other healthcare providers including dentists and physical therapists that we recommend. Click here for it.