One of the most common questions I see in Mommy Groups is “Who knows of a good doctor in ___ area”. And although I love the collaboration that comes from asking the question, the key to finding the best doctor is subjective. What works for you, may not work for someone else – & that is why I decided to share my approach.
First and foremost, find a pediatrician that is in network with your insurance carrier. These days it is very easy to get a list of providers in your area that will be covered by your insurance company. This is crucial because the first year will be riddled with doctor’s visits! In order to get a list you can either go to your insurance carriers website/portal and search by zip code and specialty OR you can give your carrier a call and request that one be emailed to you.
From this point you can narrow down your choices and work towards getting reviews on these particular providers.
Another great thing to ask your health insurance provider is if they have a list of pediatricians in your area that participate in value based care programs or have special recognitions for great quality of care. A common recognition is Patient Centered Medical Home by NCQA, you can search for recognized providers HERE.
Now – like I said in the intro, you have to keep in mind that what you may want in a physician may not be what someone else is looking for. Everyone has different preferences and standards. So start by thinking of non-negotiables, things that matter the most to you and the care of your little one. If you are having trouble brainstorming – download the printable with topics and important questions to ask to ensure your doctor is the right fit for your family.
After you have your non-negotiables in mind, now is the time that you ask opinions from other people. I would start with your immediate circle, your coworkers & LASTLY social media. When presenting the question on social media, ask about specific providers/practices instead of asking for suggestions.
Asking, does anyone have experience with ____ or ____ as a provider, is a much better route to get specific experiences that can help you decide to move forward vetting that particular person. I also encourage you to really focus on the experiences presented to you and decide if those things are important to you.
For example, someone may say, “I disliked this doctor because I could never get in to see the doctor when my little one was sick”. Or they might say, “I loved this doctor and how they treated my children but their staff wasn’t friendly”.
If you choose to google reviews instead, make sure you read through the comments to see if the scores seem warranted.
Although, the world is opening now after the pandemic, many reviews may have been made about the practice when they were short staffed or doing their best during a pandemic where they had little control. There are a lot of things to keep in mind.
3. See For Yourself How Their Practice Functions
This is going to be the difference maker. This also may seem like a lot of work. However, choosing a physician is one of the most important decisions you will have. And to be honest – it’s more of a pain to switch down the road.
I suggest you call the doctors office. Let them know that you are looking for a pediatrician and gauge how welcoming they are. This will be a good indicator of the customer service they provide. Ask them if the provider is accepting new patients and what their steps to becoming established are.
Now, for the fun part. Ask if you can schedule a short appointment with the provider to get to know them and ask a few questions. They should be open to that, but if not, see if you’re able to speak to them over the phone or if they are able to answer your questions themselves.
**this blog post was originally written in 2019, pre pandemic. It is no longer realistic or advised for you to enter a pediatricians office for a meeting, ask for a phone call instead. Many providers are doing telemedicine now as well, they may be able to video chat you.
This may be out of your comfort zone but I can assure you that by following these three steps you will be confident in your decision. I’ve created a free printable to assist you in asking all of the right questions. You can also use it as a starting point to help you think of other things that are important to you. The most important take away is that openly communicating your needs upfront will yield the best results.