What to Ask a Doctor Before Choosing One

When you’re looking for a doctor, it’s key that you find one that’s a great fit for you. It can take some time and effort, but it’s worth it.

You want to choose a doctor who listens to your questions and concerns and explains things in ways that you can understand.

If you need to find a doctor, ask friends or family members if they like theirs and why. If your doctor is retiring or moving, ask them for recommendations.

Once you have narrowed down your choices to a few doctors, check their websites or call their offices to get the answers to these questions:

The Basics

  • Are they taking on new patients?
  • Do they accept your insurance plan?
  • Does the doctor accept Medicare?

About the Doctor

  • How many other doctors are in the practice?
  • Who will see you if your doctor isn’t available?
  • Which hospital does the doctor use?
  • If you have a specific medical condition, how much experience does the doctor have treating it?
  • Does the doctor have certifications or special training?
  • Does anyone answer calls in an emergency or when the doctor is away?

About the Office

  • Where is the office (and are you willing to travel there)?
  • What are the office hours?
  • How long does it take to get an appointment?
  • Do they offer evening or weekend appointments?
  • What is the cancellation policy?
  • How long do appointments usually last?
  • Can you communicate with the doctor or get test results online?
  • How does the office handle phone calls if you have questions? Will a nurse or physician assistant call you back?
  • If you are more comfortable speaking another language, is there anyone in the office who speaks that language?

After the First Visit

You may want to call several doctors’ offices to see if you can visit them and see what they’re like. Some may even let you meet with a staff member to ask questions.

Once you’ve chosen a doctor and had your first visit, ask yourself how it went.

  • Did the doctor listen to you and respect what you had to say?
  • Were things explained in a way you could understand?
  • Did you get enough time with the doctor?
  • Were all of your questions answered?
  • Was the staff friendly and helpful?
  • Was the office clean and comfortable?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you might want to continue to search until you find a doctor that is a better match for you.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH on September 20, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

Healthfinder.gov: “Choosing a Doctor: Quick tips.”

National Institute on Aging: “17 Questions to Ask About Your New Doctor.”

Washington Health Alliance: “Questions to Ask Before Choosing a New Primary Care Provider.”

Scripps Health: “5 Questions to Ask When Looking for a New Doctor.”

HealthCare.gov: “5 questions to ask about your new doctor.”

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