QUESTION: I am in need of finding a new doctor. Do you have any suggestions about how to go about this search other than asking friends about the doctors they use?
ANSWER: There are many reasons for someone to be looking for a new doctor. It could be because of dissatisfaction with the current doctor, retirement of the current doctor, the current doctor no longer taking the patient’s insurance or the patient moving to a new area.
No matter what the reason, finding the doctor that meets an individual’s particular needs is very important, but takes time and effort. While asking friends and family members for recommendations provides names to be considered, the search should go much further.
First, you need to decide what you are looking for in a doctor. Do you prefer a male or female doctor? Would your needs be better served through a group practice or an individual practice? Are you looking for a primary doctor or a specialist? How far from home do you want to travel for your appointments and do you have transportation available to go that distance? What hospital is he or she associated with?
With that information, you can then ask friends and family members about their doctors and see if those doctors fit your needs.
After identifying several doctors, your next step is to research them. Some of that research can be done by going online and by talking with the doctor’s front-office staff.
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When talking with the front-office staff members, you are giving yourself the opportunity to determine how congenial they are. This is another important part of selecting a doctor, as you will be dealing with the staff frequently.
Several important questions that must be asked are: Is the doctor taking new patients? Does the doctor take the insurance you have? If you have Medicare, does the doctor take Medicare assignment? Is the doctor board-certified? What days and hours is the doctor in the office? Does the doctor make hospital visits or does he or she use a hospitalist when a patient is in the hospital?
Next, you might want to inquire about the doctor’s qualifications and experience. Is he or she a specialist or a generalist? Does the doctor have a preference about how to contact him or her — email or telephone?
After you have done this search and selected a doctor, set up an initial appointment. At this meeting, you can determine how well the doctor listens to the patient and how well you can understand his or her explanations and directions and whether he or she answer questions to your satisfaction. You should not come with a laundry list of complaints. Instead, plan to discuss your three top concerns.
If all works out, you will have found a new doctor who meets your personal requirements. If not, then you will need to research another name on your list of recommendations.
Wednesday: 1:30-3 p.m., “The Pros and Cons in Decision Making” seminar at the Westlake Village Civic Center, 31200 E. Oak Crest Drive in Westlake Village. Call 495-6250 for more information.
Thursday: Noon to 2 p.m., informational presentation on local transportation choices — Department of Motor Vehicles Ombudsman Program, UBER for Elders, Public Transit, Dial-a-Ride and ADA Cards, and Mileage Reimbursement and Travel Training Plans — at the Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E Janss Road in Thousand Oaks. Reservations are required. Call 381-2744.
Friday: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., “Ready, Steady, Balance” forum sponsored by the Ventura County Elderly Fall Prevention Coalition at the Thousand Oaks Teen Center, 1375 E. Janss Road in Thousand Oaks.
Tuesday: 5:30-7 p.m., “Relieve Stress and Promote Wellness Through Meditation” seminar, part of the Empowered Caregiver Series, at the Senior Concerns Day Care Center, 401 Hodencamp Road in Thousand Oaks. Call 497-0189 for reservations.
Tuesday: 5:30 p.m., Camarillo community meeting sponsored by the Camarillo Council on Aging, “Neighbors Together,” a new concept for aging in place, at the Camarillo Health Care District, 3639 E. Las Posas Road, Suite 117, in Camarillo.