From the GIC Winter 2008 Newsletter
Choosing a doctor is one of the most important decisions you can make. You want to find a doctor with whom you feel comfortable, and who you think can give you the best medical care and advice. Here are some steps to take when choosing a doctor:
Research the doctor's background and training
- Contact your health plan to find out whether or not your doctor has the Tier 1 designation, which designates that he or she is a high-quality, cost efficient physician. Physician tiering applies to all employee and retiree non-Medicare GIC plans. You will save money with lower office visit co-pays when you see a Tier 1 physician. The most up to date physician tiering information is on each plan's website.
- Learn as much as you can about the doctor's background and training. A good place to go for information is the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine's website. Another source of information is WebMD's physician directory, which provides hospital affiliation and lists other physicians in a particular doctor's practice.
- Check other quality and care reports. An excellent source is the Massachusetts Health Quality Partners website.
Make sure the doctor is right for you
- Find out how long it takes to get an appointment. Make sure the doctor can see you without a long delay.
- Find out how you can reach the doctor after hours if you have an emergency. Ask if the doctor sets aside time for patients in need of urgent care - or makes arrangements with other physicians to cover his patients to make sure you are seen when needed.
- Ask who will be part of your health care team. Find out what other medical staff are available to see you (such as physician assistants or nurse practitioners), if the doctor is not available.
- Ask if the office is open in the evening or on weekends. Longer office hours may be more convenient for you.
- Find out what happens when the doctor is on vacation. Ask if there are other doctors who can see you if your doctor is away.
- Check to see if the doctor's office is easy to get to. Find out if you can take public transportation. If you drive, ask about parking.
- Ask if you can use e-mail to contact the doctor. This can be a quick and easy way for you to ask questions or share any concerns.
Call the doctors' offices that you think would be a good fit, and say you are interested in an initial visit. Use this appointment to ask questions and find out how well the doctor listens and whether you feel at ease with him or her. Having a doctor you respect professionally and feel comfortable with personally is good for your health. So take the time to make the right choice.
Information on "How to Choose the Right Doctor" is culled in part from information provided by the Partnership for Healthcare Excellence, a statewide initiative dedicated to helping Massachusetts consumers improve the quality of their own health care. The Group Insurance Commission is a member of the Partnership's Leadership Council. Check out the Partnership's website for additional helpful tools, tips and resources for patients, including how to prepare for medical appointments, take medications safely, prepare for surgery, and find resources and tools from trusted sources.
This information provided by the Group Insurance Commission.