In a recent blog we’ve discussed the merits of a good doctor. We’ve concluded that while there are many good doctors, finding the best doctor for you is ‘easier said than done’. This time we want to get into more practical tips about locating the best doctor for you.
Most patients are getting information about doctors from word to mouth. It could either be recommendations from someone they know and trust or suggestions from other doctors. Nevertheless, online searching for information about doctors is a very common practice these days.
The first important question you need to ask yourself when you’re about to search for a doctor online is what type of doctor you need at this stage. Do you need someone who can help you manage your disease or rather an expert for a specific procedure? What is more important for you at this time, the ability to communicate with your doctor and his/her availability or the merits of his/her medical skills? Are you looking for a one-timer treatment or someone who’s going to guide you through the entire journey of the illness? The answers to these questions are essential for conducting an effective search for the good doctor that you need rather than the great doctor that you don’t.
Searching for an expert often differentiate from searching for a primary care physician. Let’s start with the first. Often, when dealing with complicated illness, you would be asked to see a specialist. As medicine is being fractionalized into more and more areas of expertise, there is a growing number of specialists, and identifying the most suitable for you becomes an issue. One such way is to look for publications and recognitions of their expertise. Leaders in their fields tend to publish articles and engage in researches. Aside from the academic credentials, it gets them emerged in the best and latest research. This could be extremely valuable for their patients. Identifying a leading specialist could be done by using free tools like Google Scholar. If, for example, you’re looking for an expert in Lung cancer you can look for results with many citations. They are usually listed in order by descending number of citations. In addition you can look for the author’s names on PubMed. There you can see how many articles a specific doctor has published. Combined, you have identified a list of the leading experts in Lung cancer out of which some would be practicing physicians. Another important way is to examine the expert bio, where you can see the expert’s educational background, his clinical experience, years of practice, past and current positions and membership in professional associations. All together, it would provide you a good picture about the background of the expert and the level of his expertise.
On the other hand, finding a primary care physician might be a bit more difficult. Publications and grants might not necessarily be helpful. This is where you can rely on other patient testimonials in dedicated websites, forums and blogs such as Healthgrades or DocAdvisor. You want to use these platforms to collect information about the doctor’s behavior, learn about his/her empathy, how they connect with patients and other doctors, and most important their ability to see you as a whole, rather than to treat a specific problem. Another important indication you want to watch for is accessibility. Often, you can have a great doctor that you trust, but also busy and hard-to-access. You want to be able to ask your physician questions and get answers so you get ahead of the game when it comes to managing your disease. Ask yourself: how long does it take me to book an appointment? When can I call the doctor? How far is his clinic? Can I correspond with my doctor through emails? Is my doctor pro-active or passive in treating my condition?
If you’ve done your search right you’d be more informed about the choice you are about to make. Yet, from our experience choosing a doctor isn’t always so rational. Often, this could be a patient’s gut instinct or just anxiety from taking on a change. While we acknowledge that information isn’t everything, we do urge any of our patients to use our tips and engage in some online search to improve their chances of finding the doctor that they need. After all when it comes to health, it is not like booking a hotel room.
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