Selecting the Doctor Who is Right For You
When choosing a doctor there's a lot to think about. Experience, specialty, online access, professional interests, health plans and more. So we've put together a list of questions to ask yourself when choosing a doctor.
Are you choosing a Primary Care Physician?
One of the best ways to make sure you’re getting excellent health care is to have a primary care physician (PCP) with whom you can build a long-term relationship—someone who knows your medical background and understands what’s important to you. Traditionally PCPs fall into three specialties – Family Medicine (treating patients of all ages), Internal Medicine (treating adult patients) or Pediatrics (treating children from birth through adolescence). Women will often choose a Gynecologist or Obstetrician for their primary care needs.
When you have a physician you know and trust, you feel comfortable talking about anything. And, all your basic care—including routine exams, preventive care and treatment for illnesses or injuries— goes more smoothly and easily. Your PCP also knows when it’s best to refer you to a specialist.
Do you want a doctor who is close to home or work?
Keep in mind that most doctors’ appointments are scheduled during the day, Monday through Friday. So you should consider where you are during these times. At work? At home? Helping out at your children’s school? This will help you find a doctor who is the most convenient for you.
Do you want to be able to access your doctor’s office online?
Many doctors now offer convenient online services, so patients can use the Web to view test results, renew prescriptions, request appointments and e-mail their doctors. When conducting your doctor search on this site, be sure to look for doctors with the Online Services icon.
Are you more comfortable with a male or a female doctor?
Discussing health issues and treatments can be a very personal experience. It’s important that you are comfortable talking to your doctor about any medical situation that may come up. Deciding whether you prefer a male or female doctor can ensure that you are as comfortable as possible.
Do you have any language requirements?
Let’s face it, treatments and diagnoses can be pretty complex regardless of what language they’re in. That’s why it’s important for you and your doctor to be able to communicate without any language barriers. Choosing a doctor who speaks your native language will help ensure good communication.
Does the doctor accept your health insurance?
To avoid unnecessary out-of-pocket health care expenses, you will want to find a doctor who accepts your health insurance. While most of the doctors affiliated with Sutter Health accept most major health plans, you will want to check to make certain that yours is on the list. We strive to keep this information as complete and current as possible, however it's a good idea to contact the physician's office or your health plan Customer Service Department regarding the specifics of your plan type and coverage. And if your PCP refers you to a specialist, it's always a good idea to make sure that specialist accepts your insurance.
Do you want a doctor who specializes in a certain type of medicine?
The Sutter Health network consists of thousands of specialists in communities across Northern California. When choosing a specialist, it is a good idea to make sure the physician is covered under your insurance plan. If you have an HMO plan you will probably need to obtain a referral or authorization from your primary care physician (PCP) before scheduling a visit with a specialist.
Is there a hospital close to your home or work that you'd like access to?
You might want to find a doctor who is affiliated, or has privileges at that hospital.