Finding a new doctor should be on your list of things to do when planning a move, especially if you have children or any pre-existing conditions. This is not a fun task and few people will say they actually look forward to doing it, but it must be done. Should you just pick someone out of the phone book, or ask neighbors, coworkers and even your movers for referrals? Well, referrals do give you a place to start, but there are certain questions you should be asking to make your decision.
What type of doctor do you need?
This simple question will narrow down your section quite a bit. Do you need a primary care physician for checkups and visits for the cold and flu, or do you need a specialist for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis etc.?
Is the doctor in good standing with the state licensing agency?
Administrations in Medicine and other sites operated by state medical licensing boards can supply you with your answers here. It is very important to find out if the doctor has had any criminal charges filed against them or received any disciplinary actions.
Where is the practice?
Whichever city you live in, location is everything. This is especially true if you are relying on public transportation, which most people do. You want to make sure you can easily get there. Keep in mind, you don’t want to switch subways three times when you have the flu and can barely walk. If you do have a car, make sure that they offer plenty of free parking. You don’t want to have a circle the block a dozen times either.
Does the office have a long wait?
If you feel sick on a Monday, are you going to have to suffer until Friday to be seen by a doctor, or do they leave slots open for urgent situations?
What are their hours?
Depending on your work schedule, you may want to make sure the doctor offers one day with extended hours. Weekend hours would obviously be a huge bonus too.
Will the office handle processing insurance claims for you?
This is a very important question to ask. You want to know if you will have to pay up front and then file the claim on your own to be reimbursed. Depending on your unique situation, this could be quite inconvenient for you. Not to mention, if you live paycheck to paycheck, there are rarely extra funds lying around for these types of emergencies.
Who is the fill-in doctor in the event of an absence?
If the doctor is sick or has some type of family emergency, who comes in to care for patients during this absence? You may want to look at their credentials as well.
Is the staff friendly?
If you asked your coworkers or movers for a referral, they can likely tell you if the office staff is pleasant, even if they can’t supply you with any other answers. Don’t be afraid to just pop in a doctor’s office and see how you are treated, and don’t think twice about going elsewhere if you are not happy with the results.