When choosing a doctor, there’s a lot to consider. A good place to start is with the basics — take a look at the doctor’s training, experience and areas of professional interest. Another basic qualification is to make sure your doctor accepts your health plan. Beyond that, how do you find a doctor who’s right for you? Here are some questions to ask yourself when choosing a new doctor.
Are you looking for a primary care doctor?
One of the best ways to make sure you’re getting excellent healthcare is to have a primary care doctor (also known as a primary care physician or PCP). Your primary care doctor can get to know you over the long term, understands your medical background and knows when it’s best to refer you to a specialist.
Traditionally, primary care doctors fall into three specialties – family medicine (treating patients of all ages), internal medicine (treating adult patients) or pediatrics (treating children from birth through adolescence).
Do you need flexible appointment times?
Although most doctor appointments are scheduled during weekdays, a growing number of doctors are offering appointments outside of regular business hours. In some cases you can book an appointment early in the morning, later in the evening or on a weekend. If that flexibility is important to you, look for a doctor who offers extended or flexible hours. You can call the doctor’s office or find your local care center hours.
Is there a hospital or care center close to home or work?
You might want to find a doctor who is affiliated with, or has privileges at, a hospital or care center that’s conveniently located close to home or work. Other care options include Walk-In Care for common illnesses, and Urgent Care and emergency care for serious or life-threatening conditions.
Do you want online services?
If you choose a doctor affiliated with the Sutter network who participates in My Health Online, you can access a variety of online services. My Health Online lets you book appointments, view test results, renew prescriptions and email your doctor from your computer, smartphone or tablet. You can also book a Video Visit with your provider or a Sutter Walk-In Care clinician for non-urgent health concerns.
To see if a doctor offers online services, visit Find a Doctor and check the box for “Offering My Health Online or Other Online Services.”
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’re 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’re as comfortable as possible.
Do you have any language requirements?
It’s important for you and your doctor to be able to communicate clearly without any language barriers. Choosing a doctor who speaks your native language will help ensure good communication. You can usually find languages spoken (and level of fluency) on your doctor’s profile, where you can also learn about their medical training and philosophy of care.
Do you need a doctor who specializes in a certain type of medicine?
When choosing a specialist, it’s a good idea to make sure the doctor is covered under your insurance plan. If you have an HMO plan, you’ll probably need a referral or authorization from your primary care doctor before scheduling a visit with a specialist.
Need a primary care doctor? Find a doctor near you.