Doctors may see things differently because they’re thinking about changes that don’t necessarily cause symptoms, Cassoobhoy says. They might, for example, say patients aren’t as healthy because they gained 5 to 10 pounds or experienced small increases in blood pressure or blood sugar.
“Patients think they’re still healthy because they don’t notice changes, but doctors know the risk of diabetes and heart disease and stroke have increased even though the patient standing in front of them says they feel fine and don’t feel any different from a year ago,” Cassoobhoy says.
What to Do if You’re Looking to Change Your Doctor
There are several things you can do as you look for a new doctor to help ensure that the change results in somebody who meets your needs.
Cassoobhoy says a well-trained doctor will listen to you and ask thoughtful questions as you tell your story. When they share their thoughts with you, you should be able to ask questions in return, she adds. Last, the office visit should feel collaborative and respectful, finishing with a logical, clear plan of what the doctor and his or her staff will do next, and what you need to do.
Also, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) advises people to do what a lot of survey respondents are already doing: Ask your doctor and trusted friends and family members for recommendations.
Once you have somebody in mind who seems like a good fit, check with your insurance company to make sure the provider is covered by your health plan, HHS advises. Double check this by also calling the doctor’s office to confirm this on their end before your first appointment.
While you’re on the phone confirming the doctor accepts your insurance, there are some other things you should ask, according to HHS. Find out what hospital the doctor uses, who will see you if your doctor isn’t there, whether the doctor treats your specific medical conditions, and whether the doctor speaks your preferred language. You may also want to ask about the cancellation policy, how long it takes to get appointments, how long checkups typically last, and whether the doctor can run lab work or X-rays in the office, HHS suggests.
During that first visit, think about how the doctor and office staff make you feel, HHS advises. If the doctor doesn’t make you feel comfortable, show respect for what you have to say, know your medical history, and spend enough time with you then it may be worth continuing your search.
“There are plenty of wonderful doctors out there,” Cassoobhoy says. “It may seem like a daunting task, but it’s well worth the effort to look for a doctor and office staff that value communication and kindness along with great medical care.”
The Everyday Health–Castle Connolly Physician-Consumer Parallel Pandemic POV Survey was conducted in November and December 2021 across three audiences: a research panel of 1,007 consumers; 289 Everyday Health visitors, and 287 Castle Connolly healthcare professionals.