How do I Research Healthcare Professionals?

Miranda Fine

There are several ways to choose healthcare professionals that are right for you. The process will differ based on whether you have health insurance coverage or not, and what type. The first thing to do is to find out what type of coverage you have, and how it works. For example, can you choose any healthcare professional, or must you choose from a list of specific providers? Doing some research about how your plan works at the outset can save you from unnecessary fees, or having to switch between healthcare professionals after you have established a relationship with a provider. If you have no health insurance, your options are more limited, and cost is more likely to be a deciding factor in choosing healthcare professionals.

It is good to research a new doctor.
It is good to research a new doctor.

After you have determined what type of insurance coverage you have, if any, you can start researching individual providers. Asking family members, friends or colleagues to recommend providers is a good way to begin your research. In most cases, you will want to find a general practitioner who can attend to your basic medical needs and refer you to a specialist when necessary.

During the initial meeting, the patient has the opportunity to ask questions and discuss concerns with the new doctor.
During the initial meeting, the patient has the opportunity to ask questions and discuss concerns with the new doctor.

Take a moment to think about what is important to you in a healthcare professional. Having top credentials is important to some people, while having a doctor with the same gender or specific language skills is important to others. If you do not have insurance, finding a healthcare professional that offers low-cost or subsidized services may be most important.

Quite a bit of research about healthcare professionals can be done on-line. Many doctors and clinics post information about their providers’ educational and professional experience, their philosophy of care and whether they are accepting new patients. You can also search on-line for low-cost clinics and providers, usually through your city or county’s public health department.

Another way to research healthcare professionals is to call their offices directly and ask about their education, experience, or other specifics you want to know. Many providers will be willing to meet you and discuss their practice, and will not charge for this visit. If you do not have insurance, ask if the provider offers discounts or sliding-scale pricing. If not, ask if they know other healthcare professionals who do.

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