Physician care is necessary for routine checkups and medical management. But, with all of the confusion going on about healthcare today, finding a good doctor can be challenging. When looking for the right provider, there are some questions that you might want to consider asking to help with making the best decisions. We’ve outlined some of the most important questions below.
1. How long is the wait time?
Doctors’ appointments can take a lot of time away from a busy day. It is important to know the amount of time it will take for the visit, from start to finish.
- Find out how early you should arrive before the scheduled appointment in case there is paperwork that needs to be filled out.
- If time is something of importance to you, find out if this information can be filled out online.
- Ask if you will receive a notification if services are running behind schedule.
2. Will I see a doctor or a nurse practitioner?
Nurse practitioners are hired by doctors to help with the flow of patients seen in the office. They are registered nurses with additional advanced education giving them the ability to offer some of the same care measures as the doctor. You will need to know the following:
- Who sees most of the patients?
- If an appointment is scheduled, do I have a choice of which provider I want to see?
- Does the doctor review or sign off on the care given to me by the nurse practitioner?
3. Are payments due at the time of service?
Find out what fees are due on the day of service. Ask about the following:
- New patient fee
- Payment options
- Late appointment fees
- Appointment cancellation fees
4. What happens if I need care on short notice or after office hours?
Your doctor is the person you will go to for direction when unusual symptoms arise. However, symptoms don’t always occur during normal business hours nor do they follow a schedule. If you need your doctor sooner than later, you may want to ask about:
- What are the available appointments for non-scheduled patients/walk-ins?
- What should you do if you need the doctor after hours?
- If a situation requires you to go to the emergency room, can the doctor be notified?
- For urgent care situations, is there a list of preferred locations that communicate with the doctor’s office?
5. How long will it take to receive results?
Today, as we are in the season of a pandemic, test results are extremely important. As a patient, you deserve to know the results of diagnostic tests as soon as possible. Asking about the time frame and process for retrieving results can save you time and worry. The following information would be good to know:
- What is the normal turnaround time for results?
- How you will be notified when the results are ready?
- Will someone be available to talk about your results immediately or is an appointment needed?
- Will they be available for you to view after the discussion of the results take place? (i.e., copies for your personal file, online patient access)
Concerns about your health are just as important as other life decisions. Choosing the doctor that’s best for you requires asking questions that will help build confidence and trust in a system that is full of new and different directions. Knowing details of the doctor’s services you are considering allows you to determine the type of quality care you stand to receive as a patient.
About the Author
Cynthia Parker is a woman of many words. Making a difference in the lives of those who are different is the purpose of her efforts.