health specialist

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One of the most difficult kinds of health practitioners to find are ‘specialists.’

They are so hard to come by that patients mostly rely on recommendations from their primary care physician. Unfortunately, these recommendations are not always the best options in terms of patient-doctor communication and costs.

The good news is there are other better ways to find medical specialists. In this post, we're going to offer a list of steps for finding the best doctor for your medical condition.

1.      Figure out the kind of doctor you need

Did you know many different specialists can treat the same symptom?

For example, let’s say your underlying condition is mental-related. In your mind, what you think you need may be a psychiatrist near me. But in reality, that condition could be handled by other specialists like a primary care doctor, psychologists, psychoanalysts, holistic doctors, etc.

So, how do you understand the one you need? The first step is to understand your diagnosis and probably ask your primary care doctor for additional insight on the right specialist to seek.

Jumping from one specialist to another can cost you a fortune. I’m sure you wouldn’t want that.

2.      Compile a list of all the specialists in your area

Now that you understand the actual kind of doctor you’re looking for, the next thing is to write out a list comprising the names and details of these practitioners.

For example, if you’ve finally figured you need a dentist, you can compile a detailed list of all the dental clinics near you.

I bet the question you’re asking right now is how you do find the details of all the specialists in your area?

Well, it's fairly simple. There are places you can look, such as the Nicelocal platform. Nicelocal is an online doctor-finder database that comprises a well-curated list of all kinds of medical practitioners you may be looking for in any area.

Alternatively, you can check with your insurance carrier or news/media outlets such as US News & World Report’s Doctor Finder directory.

3.      Narrow down your options

Based on the compilation you’ve made, you should have a long list of specialists on your hand right now. The only challenge you’ll have is how to choose the right one.

What most people do is they get expert advice from their primary care doctor, or they seek counsel from the diagnostic center they were evaluated.

While examining your options, here are the things you need to consider:

Office location(s): Nearness or farness to where you are

Educational background: To determine how qualified a doctor is

Years in practice: How experienced the doc is

Specialty interests: How inclined to your condition the doctor really is

Types of insurance accepted: To determine whether or not your health insurance is valid at their center

Languages spoken: Ease of communication with doctor

Gender: Since getting treated by an opposite sex might make some people uncomfortable.

Review CV: To know how qualified the doctor is

Check out patient reviews: To have a bird-eye view of what the experiences of previous patients have been.

New patient acceptance: To know whether they’re up for session booking

4.      Do your own background check

After carefully considering all the factors specified above, you should have a very short list by now. But you still don't have your specialist yet.

To separate the wheat from the chaff, you have to do a little digging of your own.

What are you looking for? Anything that discredits some of the names on your list. If you can’t find any, then you want to consider the integrity of their certifications.

In other words, you want to verify their board certification at the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). A reputable medical enterprise should have its business registered with the government. If a specialist doesn't have this, that's a red flag.

Alternatively, you can also look up a specialist at their home state's licensing website. For example, suppose you're looking for a specialist in Florida. In that case, you can quickly click on “verify a license” on the state’s official website to check for any negative reports about a specialist.

5.      Book an appointment

When you've finally made up your mind on the specialist you're going with; the next thing is to make an appointment.

Bear in mind that you must look out for a couple of things upon arrival at their facility to be sure you’re really in the right place.

Amongst the list of things to look out for include:

  • The neatness of the environment: You don’t want to treat a condition only to return home with another ailment
  • Staff coordination: How coordinated are the workers and nurses? Are they well-mannered and health-conscious? All these can help you figure whether you’re really in the right place for your treatment.
  • Patient reactions: while you’re waiting to be called upon, you might be lucky to come across other patients. Pay attention to what they are saying and how they feel about the service they received.
  • Facilities: How comfortable do you find the entire space, facilities, and environment?
  • Results communication: What’s their mode of communicating your results to you? Do they do it via paper printouts, email, EMR, or other methods? It is important to find out to know whether you’re comfortable with it.
  • Scheduling: How busy are they? Do they strike you like they will delay your results? You must pay attention to these things.

6.    Bring the needful along

This step goes hand-in-hand with step #5 above.

While coming, you should bring your important documents along. Amongst the list of things to bring are:

  • Medical diagnosis
  • Prescriptions
  • Health history
  • List of your allergies.
  • Insurance document
  • Contact information

 7.      Make sure you get a second opinion

After your examination or treatment, try to seek out a second opinion from one of the specialist’s peers. But if you can’t find any credible one, you can do it online.

By and large, make sure you get the best attention for your condition.

(guest article)

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