Identifying the right doctor is very crucial to solving any medical condition you may be suffering from. Here’s how you can improve your healthcare journey and get the best care at the right time!
The first step to seeking any kind of medical assistance is finding the right doctor. You don’t just want to pick from the first available list of doctors in your area, or even your social circle may not always have all the answers.
Instead, you need to find a doctor who is the right fit for the medical assistance you are seeking. Doctors are one of the most important touchpoints in a patient’s medical journey, and making the correct decision here is crucial to ensure quality healthcare. Here are 6 points you must consider to ensure you get the right treatment in the right way.
Choose by symptoms and not specialty
Before you start asking questions, make sure that you know and understand your symptoms well. Symptoms are what you feel and signs are what the doctor will determine based on them. For example, there is a difference between a neurologist, a nephrologist and a urologist. But for a patient, it may be difficult to know and understand these differences, however they can easily ascertain which part of their body is experiencing what symptoms.
Thanks to technology, patients today are empowered to make informed decisions about their medical journey from the very start. And, digital healthcare platforms play a very important part in this process by using AI that enables patients to search for doctors based on their symptoms in real-time.
For example if you choose hair loss treatments, it will show you dermatologists who work as a cosmetologist and trichologist, and also plastic surgeons who work in the field of hair transplant. However if you choose a specialty like urology or nephrologist while both of them look into kidney problems but their expertise is different. Urologists look into surgical issues, like kidney stone removal whereas nephrologists look into overall non surgical kidney problems like renal failure or kidney failure, where blood urea and blood creatinine is high.
It also allows patients to add multiple symptoms while searching for the doctor. The more information a patient provides both the platform and the doctor, the better it is for the provider to assist them.
Research their credentials
When looking for a doctor, it’s important to ensure that you choose one who has the required experience and training necessary to treat the condition.
- Every doctor in India is registered under the Indian Medical Council (IMC) with a registration number. Check for these credentials on the official website. Additionally, to help patients access all the information at one place without having to hunt for it, many healthcare platforms also provide detailed information on the certification of their doctors.
- While certification can help with credibility, patients can also look at their pedigree in terms of the institutes from which they completed their specialisation. The registration search will give you the details and digital platforms have detailed information of the doctors and their entire qualification and experience background.
- Doctor with a specialisation and degree from a reputed national college whereas one from not the most popular college. The registration search will give you the details and the empanelled doctors list at the hospital/clinic will have the details. Mentioned on online platforms as well.
Ask for referrals
When you’re looking for a new doctor, it’s important to ask the people you trust, like your family, friends and close acquaintances, for referrals. Sharing recommendations and past experience goes a long way in helping make the right call as a patient.
An alternative to this is to also ask your current primary care physician (PCP) for recommendations for the medical issue you are facing. Your PCP who has been treating you for years will know your history and will be able to guide you the best.
Visit a GP first & consider their years of experience
The first step to understanding this is by identifying your needs. Do you need a specialist or a general practitioner, can you make that call?
Not always. For example, in Europe & America, one has to mandatorily go through the General Physician first, and only after doing a basic check-up, the GP decides whether the patient should go for a specialist check up and if so which one.
In India however, patients with limited understanding of medicines often end up seeking help from the wrong doctors bypassing GP check-up. For instance, in case of chest pain, when a patient rushes to a cardiologist although the problem was with gastro.
So instead of losing out more time and exhausting more resources, the best thing to do is first visit a GP and then based on their advice visit a specialist (if needed) with substantial years of experience.
Find out how they communicate with patients
Effective communication is crucial for building and maintaining the bridge between doctor-patient interaction. Hence look out for signs like– do they use email, text messaging and telemedicine? How easy is it to get in touch with them if the need arises? In addition, if possible, you can also ask about teleconsultation options such as video chat and text message consultations via smartphones; these are especially helpful if travelling outside of town or availability on weekends.
Another way to assess this is to consider the doctor’s customer satisfaction or CSAT score. This largely evaluates how the doctor interacts with the patient, the overall experience of the patient in terms of whether they treat you with respect, listens to your opinions and concerns, encourages you to ask questions, explains things in ways you understand. This will give you a broad understanding of the overall experience of patients with the doctor.
Patient Stories matter, but take them with a pinch of salt
Be it word of mouth or reading online recommendations from past patients and testimonials are the most common ways to figure out which doctor to choose. However, it’s advised to never trust online recommendations blindly. These are usually unfiltered, unmonitored recommendations and so can sometimes be unreliable.
Remember, this is more than a mere transaction. With your health being at stake, it’s important to ensure that you base your decision on authentic information only.
Hence, instead of simply checking Google reviews, check out trusted healthcare platforms that thoroughly vet the recommendations shared by their patients. Also, make sure to only look at recommendations to analyse a patient’s overall experience, not medical assessment, as patients are not usually experts in this area.
Identifying the right doctor is very crucial to solving any medical condition you may be suffering from. Otherwise, you might end up moving from one doctor to another which is not just time consuming and exhausting but will also push your recovery further.
With the help of these points and newer healthcare models that are technology-forward, the sector is working towards ensuring the access to quality healthcare is just a click away!
While this guide is meant to help you make an informed decision, it’s important to understand that these collectively help improve your medical journey, and not necessarily in this order.