When you live with psoriasis, you’ll probably need to visit one or more doctors besides your regular doctor. These specialists help diagnose and treat psoriasis and other related health conditions. They may include dermatologists, rheumatologists, physical and occupational therapists, cardiologists, psychologists, and others. Finding the best specialist for your individual needs takes research and asking the right questions.
Decide What’s Most Important to You
Think about the most important qualities your doctor should have, and make a list. You may prefer a female doctor, one of your same race or ethnicity, or a doctor who can see you in the evening. Figure out which qualities are non-negotiable vs. ones where you can be a little more flexible.
Ask for Suggestions
Talk to people you know and whose opinions you trust, and ask for the names of doctors they’d recommend. Friends, relatives, neighbors, and co-workers may all have suggestions. If you can’t continue seeing your current specialist but still value their opinion, ask if they can recommend a new doctor.
Besides asking for a name, ask why they’re suggesting a particular doctor. Find out what they like about the specialist and if this person meets your criteria.
Research and Narrow Your List
Now that you have a list of doctors, it’s time to learn more about them. Organizations like the American Medical Association, the American Board of Medical Specialties, and the National Committee for Quality Assurance all offer trustworthy information on doctors.
A dermatologist will likely be the central player on your psoriasis care team. You’ll want to find someone who’s board-certified, which means they’ve had extensive training and have passed exams in their field.
Medicare.gov has a tool to find and compare providers who accept Medicare. There are also resources to find specialists of color, such as the Skin of Color Society and Blackdoctor.org. And the medical society in your state or local community has information about any complaints filed against a specific doctor.
If you have health insurance, keep in mind your policy may require you to select an in-network doctor. Or, you may be able to choose an out-of-network specialist for an added fee. Contact your insurance carrier for more information and a list of specialists in your area.
Choose a Specialist and ask Questions
Your potential new doctor’s office can offer more insight into their policies and qualifications. You may even be able to meet the doctor before visiting them for medical care, although this type of visit could come with a fee. Ask the doctor or office staff these questions:
- Are you accepting new patients?
- How quickly can I get an appointment time?
- For how long can I expect to visit the doctor during an appointment?
- What’s your cancellation policy?
- Can my family take part in my health care decisions?
- If you aren’t available, which provider will I visit instead?
- With which hospital are you affiliated?
- Do you perform lab work and X-rays at your office or elsewhere?
- What’s the best way to communicate with you outside of appointments?
- Do you offer evening, weekend, or telehealth appointments?
- Do you have special training or certifications relevant to my needs?
- Do you or another staff member speak my language?
After your first visit with a new specialist, take some time to think about how things went. Here are some follow-up questions to ask yourself:
- Did I feel comfortable?
- Did the doctor and office staff clearly explain everything?
- Did they listen to my questions and concerns without interrupting?
- Were they polite?
- Did the doctor set aside enough time for our visit?
- Do they understand my medical history?
- Did they clearly describe my diagnosis and treatment?
- Do I know when to return for a follow-up?
Carefully consider the answers to these questions and whether you can trust the doctor with your long-term medical care. If not, revisit your list of other potential specialists.
Arthritis Foundation: “Your Psoriatic Arthritis Health Care Team.”
Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Alliance: “Who to see?”
National Institute on Aging: “How to Choose a Doctor You Can Talk To.”
MyHealthFinder: “Choosing a Doctor: Quick Tips.”
Winchester Hospital: “Beyond Primary Care: Choosing a Medical Specialist.”
Consumer Reports: “How to Find a Good Doctor.”
American Academy of Dermatology: “How to Select a Dermatologist.”