Patients Have a Choice in Specialty Care

December 13, 2018

You are in need of a medical specialist. Now what?

In today’s healthcare environment, it is important for patients to remember that they have a choice in the care they receive and where they receive it. As hospital systems grow larger and acquire primary care physicians and general practitioners, they are under an increasing amount of pressure to keep their patients in network for advanced treatments and testing. While that benefits the hospital’s bottom line, is it what is in the patient’s best interest?

Remember, as the patient, you have a choice! If you are in need of specialty care, keep these tips in mind to help you find a specialist that you feel comfortable with:

1. Word-of-Mouth Matters. Your primary care physician will likely recommend that you see a specialist in-network, but is that really what is best for you? Ask your practitioner who they would send their loved ones to. Reach out to family, friends, and other acquaintances as a great referral source as well! Who is a better referral source than someone that has already been in your shoes?

2. Research the suggested physicians. Take the time to research the physicians you’ve been referred to. Most healthcare providers have an online profile that shows their qualifications, medical schools, and their biographies. Compare the physicians accordingly. Board certifications and fellowship training are important attributes to look for.

3. Consider the specialist’s level of experience. When it comes to specialized medical or surgical care, the more experience your provider has, the better. Look for a doctor that has several years of experience or has completed a fellowship to further their specialized training. In addition, a fair question to ask any surgical specialist is how many surgeries they do for your specific condition. For example, “How many total knee replacements do you perform annually, and how does that number compare to similar specialists?”

4. Visit the specialist and ask tough questions. Don’t be afraid to ask your specialist questions about his or her background, experience, or their recommended treatment plan. An office visit is a great way to determine if you are comfortable with moving forward with that particular physician.

5. Consider getting a second opinion. Not sure if you want to proceed with the specialist you saw? Your choice for specialty care is not set in stone! Feel free to seek out a second opinion from another specialist. Another physician may have a different treatment option in mind or may be better fit for your personality.

As a prospective patient, it is important for you to do your research. Healthcare is a consumer driven industry, and as the patient, you are in the driver’s seat. You have a choice! Learn more about our physicians today.
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