What is your criteria for choosing your healthcare provider?This is a very important topic for everyone,especially those of us who want to remain healthy in retirement. There are few decisions that one has to make that is more important than who will you trust with your healthcare.
Here are six points to consider when choosing a healthcare provider:
1. Is he currently licensed in the state or country in which you need services? In the United States,each practitioner whether doctor, nurse, therapist,or other discipline is required to pass a state license exam in order to practice. In addition, there are mandatory continuing education requirements in order to maintain a license. In some states one can find out about the status of a practitioner by contacting the Department of Health in that state.Note that outside of the United States the requirements may differ,and each country may have similar or differing requirements.
2. Has the individual been recommended by someone that you know and trust? Having the opportunity to speak with someone who is satisfied with the quality and level of services they received is priceless.Be sure to ask specific questions about the reasons that they believe that the practitioner gives good service.
3.Is the provider a member of your health insurance plan? This is a key issue because using a provider outside of your insurance network could cost you more money since the services may not be covered.
4. Is he affiliated with a hospital that you prefer? Another consideration is whether the hospital is part of your insurance network.
5 Is the healthcare provider taking new patients? Some physicians close their panel to new patients for various reasons.
6. Is transportation provided should you need this service? There might be a time when you are not able (for whatever reason) to provide your own transportation.
INFORMATION YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE THE FIRST VISIT
A phone call to the doctor or other healthcare provider’s office prior to the first visit is recommended. Be sure to ask the following questions:
a.Is there a fee for visits that are not cancelled by a certain time for example 24 hours prior to the visit?
b. Who covers for the provider after hours,or on holidays?
c. Is the provider in a group practice, and if so are you able to see the same person at each visit?
d. Does the provider have experience in working with patients with your condition? If you have a complicated medical history, it is important to ensure that the provider has experience in this area.
e. Is he Board Certified? Some physicians are Board eligible but not certified. My preference is with a physician who is Board certified.
f. Where was the provider trained? I like to personally ask the provider this question. It helps to build rapport and to get to know him as a person.
g. Is there a fee that you pay at the time of the visit?. It is best to find this out from your insurance carrier.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE DAY OF THE VISIT
These points are my personal recommendations.You may have your own list, however, I have found that these have served me well in finding and staying with my healthcare providers for twelve or more years:
1. Is he interested in you as a person? I prefer not to just be a name to my providers.I appreciate it when they call me by my name,and have some knowledge of my lifestyle.This is important because this knowledge will influence their recommendations regarding a proposed treatment plan.
2 Is he always in a hurry, or does he take the time to sit down (even for a few minutes) during or at the end of the visit.This gives me the opportunity to ask questions to ensure that I understand what is being recommended. I like to have my questions written down before the visit.Many of us tend to totally forget what we want to say to our doctors unless we have it on paper. These days I put my questions in my phone which is more convenient for me.
3. Does he encourage me to ask questions about my health care? Does he explain his responses in an easy to understand way? Though I am a nurse, I still expect answers that are easily understood.
4. Is he respectful and a good listener? This point goes without saying.
MY OWN EXAMPLE
Today, I went to a medical appointment with one of my doctors. I have been with this doctor for about 12 years.The reasons that I have remained with him are numerous.First of all, he is an excellent clinician. He is well respected by his peers, and others in the community. Each time that I visit his office, I feel that he is truly concerned about my welfare. His wife is a Nurse Practitioner and she is also very qualified. They both have a caring attitude.
I truly appreciate the fact that he asks me questions about my lifestyle. He knows about my family, and major events in my life. Both he and his wife give me the impression that they want the best for me at all times. He is never in a hurry,even though he has a very busy practice. He is very thorough in his examinations. He will sit down and address any concerns that I may have at every visit.
I hope that you have healthcare providers that will give you the highest quality of service that you deserve. For many of us retirement brings more medical issues that need to be addressed.It is imperative that we have the right information to choose the most qualified practitioner that will help us to have a healthy retirement.
Do you have comments about your own experiences in choosing a healthcare provider? I would love to hear them.