Seeking out good health care is an effort, but certainly one worth the trouble. Asking friends for recommendations is the way most people find their doctors. This works to a degree because asking someone who knows you helps you find a kind and compassionate professional you like.
You also need to find a professional you trust. And while trust is important,it needs to be linked to competence,expertise, and experience in the areas of practice. For this,some research is necessary, and the following questions need to be answered.
- How many years has he/she been in practice? You don’t want someone just out of school-good as they may be,to do a procedure that requires experience.
- In case of a needed procedure, how is pain managed and handled? Is there premedication for anxiety available if needed? Is there 24 hour coverage for emergencies?
- Is there only one treatment plan?Do they offer treatment options?
- On follow-up care, would you be seeing the same practitioner for continuity of treatment?
Additional concerns that need to be addressed may include the following;
- Nearly all patients find that a long wait for an appointment or worse, waiting in the “examining” room not the reception area at their appointment time is extremely frustrating.
- Patients feel neglected and unimportant if their appointment is rushed,getting the feeling that the practitioner isn’t listening, and thus showinga lack of concern. Make sure your chosen professional pays attention to your concerns.
- In today’s climate,with Medicare and insurances dictating coverage,many single practitioners have become part of large cooperativegroups. Unfortunately for us all,the quality of care can certainly be compromised. So what to do? Ask questions! Lot’s of them-there is no such thing as a stupid question when it comes to your health.
- When making your first appointment – with any professional, bring a pad and pen with you, and written questions addressing your health concerns, and jot down the doctor’s responses. It will help you remember the questions and answers later.
- If you are particularly anxious, bring a friend or family member with you for support. Bring a list of all medications you are taking or have taken (and their dosages),your family health history, and any hospitalizations or surgeries.
- Remember to keep records of all your visits, what was done, and reports or tests completed.
- You also need to understand your insurance policy – at least know how it works. Most companies cover treatment visits at 50-80 percent of UCR (usual and customary). Also, every procedure has a code – know it! The UCR is a number set by the insurance company for treatment codes – not set by the professional.
All of this is necessary to find and seek a health practitioner you can trust. At times a “specialist” may be required and a referral made, but you need to ask questions to be satisfied with the choices you make.
Your practitioner is there to help you help yourself, so find the one you like, and If per chance the fit is not right, seek out another. This may be aggravating, but necessary. Remember the ball is always in your court. There is no time for patience or arrogance, a rush job, or lack of attention to your health concerns. Remember, ask questions, and get the answers.
Thomas R. Bloom DDS, PC,FAGD
217 Old Route 22
Pawling, New York 12564