When his in-laws, who live in a different state, asked for his help finding a new doctor, Rob Lamberts, M.D., of More Musings (of a Distractible Kind), ultimately relied on the same methods available to most of us. "I was a health care consumer looking for what I needed.' The tools I used were the usual: personal recommendations, Google, physician rating sites, and a call to the office.' I had a slight advantage knowing the quality of the program this physician trained at, but it still took a fair bit of luck,' Rob writes. The process also made him grateful that his parents already have a "wonderful primary care physician, which takes a whole lot of pressure off'and puts [his] mind at ease."
There are many benefits to having a good primary care physician: they know you, you know and trust them, and there's the familiarity and comfort of having a go-to place of care.' Family physician Ed Pullen, M.D., sees another perk. In Field of Vision, Ed observes, 'By having a primary physician, you get the advantage of someone who has the wide-focus lens looking at the whole of your health concerns.' He advises people to "find and keep a primary care doctor that you use for as much of your health care as is realistically possible.'
In Why I Fired My Doctor, medical writer Deb Gordon found herself looking for a new primary care physician after it became harder and harder to communicate with her doctor or to get an appointment. Turning to another network, Deb found a new doctor and a practice style that fit her needs: 'Let me tell you'I was just thrilled with this doctor and his practice. I was thrilled with how he spoke to me, his unhurried manner, the way he listened, and his excellent communication skills. He didn't interrupt, he didn't appear rushed, he asked open-ended questions.
To find that just-right physician, more and more people are looking online. A 2008 Wall Street Journal.com/Harris poll found that 91% of people surveyed would refer to online information about doctors if provided by their health plan(s) and 87% expressed interest in providing feedback to health plan sites for physician ratings. ' Our Health Behavior News Service Prepared Patient® feature article, Using Physician Rating Websites, provides information, tips and resources on how to evaluate such sites. It also details what you'll find and what's lacking.
What have your experiences been when looking for a new doctor? What resources did you use and which ones were most or least helpful?