In Part 1 of this series of articles on 5 Tips to Be a Better Participant in Your Healthcare, I take a look at finding the right doctor by understanding the different types of doctors, the training and special interests of the doctor, and exploring the possibility of seeking a new doctor or a second opinion.

5 Tips to Be a Better Participant in Your Healthcare: Introduction

Part 1: Find the Right Doctor

Tip #1: Find the right doctor

Not all doctors are the same. Primary care physicians practice general medicine and include family practitioners, pediatricians, internists, obstetricians, and gynecologists. These doctors are generally the first stop for patients and are a long-term partner in healthcare. You can find a primary care physician by looking through the providers in your insurance network, word of mouth and talking to people you know, or by online searches.

When there are more particular needs or problems to address, patients are referred or sent to specialists, such as oncologists, cardiologists, endocrinologists, or surgeons who may then use other tests to further diagnose the problem and develop treatment or management plans. These relationships are generally centered on a particular problem and once that problem is solved, you may no longer need to visit that doctor. Speak with your primary or referring doctor to be sure you are going to the right specialist for the right problem.

Do you know what special training your doctor received that may be beneficial to you as a patient? Do they treat the diseases or disorders for which you need attention? There are several ways to find these answers. Ask your doctor about their experience of taking care of people with your condition. Also, doctors’ offices and hospitals often place information about their physicians’ background, education, and special training on their website where you can discover the diseases and disorders they have a special interest in treating.

But even when you have found your doctor, there are times when it is necessary to seek a second opinion or find another doctor. Please know doing so is okay. Though I enter the relationship seeking to help, I recognize there are times where I may not be the best doctor for the particular needs of a patient. Furthermore, I have had patients who requested a second opinion or have care transferred to a different provider. Sometimes, through no fault of the doctor and/or the patient, it is not a good match, leading to such changes so the patient can receive the attention and care they rightly deserve.

So there you have it. As mentioned in the introduction to this 5 part series, next week I will have another tip to keep you fully engaged in your healthcare. 

Until then, share this tip with your friends and plan to learn about tip #2 next week: speaking up during your doctor’s visit.