The pandemic has brought on a wave of physician retirements. Perhaps one of your relative’s doctors has sent a letter announcing the close of their practice. Yikes!
When choosing a new physician, it’s worth the time to do some research. The right fit is critical to your loved one’s health and well-being.
Begin by asking your loved one’s friends for their recommendations. Also ask your relative’s current doctors for input. If your relative has original Medicare, start your search at Medicare.gov. You can filter by zip code. Also, for specialty, gender, and hospital affiliation. What are your relative’s preferences? Make a list of names.
- Address limitations of insurance coverage. If your loved one has Medicare Advantage, they can select only from the doctors within their plan’s network. In that case, start your search on the plan’s website rather than on Medicare’s.
- Google the doctor. As you narrow the list, look up the contenders on Google. See what their website says about them. Their education. Their certifications. Sometimes even their philosophy of medicine or their personal hobbies. Does your loved one resonate with what’s described? Call the office to confirm the doctor is taking new patients.
- Consult watchdog sites. Next, go to the Federation of State Medical Boards. It will reveal if there have been any disciplinary actions. Open Payments provides additional transparency. It lists research money, speaking fees, or other benefits a doctor is receiving from drug and medical device companies. In 2019, 60% of physicians reported some financial relationship with other entities.
- Check online review sites. Insights can be found on sites such as Yelp, Vitals, and Healthgrades. Or even Google Reviews. A balanced evaluation is not guaranteed. However, if a doctor gets consistently negative ratings across multiple sites, likely there’s an issue.