Personal Health

How to Use Patient Ratings for Selecting a New Doctor

It can be daunting to choose a new doctor. You need to find someone you trust, because she or he will play an important role in your health. You deserve a doctor who is professional, compassionate, and who understands your individual needs. When searching for someone who fits these criteria, many people turn to patient ratings sites for help. But by asking the right questions and using reliable sources, you'll be on your way to finding a new doctor who will be an excellent match for you.

Some popular websites for finding a doctor include Healthgrades, ZocDoc, Consumer Reports, Vitals, and U.S. News & World Report. You can also ask family, friends, and neighbors for doctors that they recommend.

Ask the Right Questions

It's important to know what you're looking for in a doctor. Think about the kind of questions that you would want to ask a potential health care provider, and keep them in mind as you explore your options. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers tips for patients seeking a new doctor, but these guidelines can also be applied to your review of patient ratings. See if it's clear from a patient rating whether a doctor:

  • Treats patients with respect.
  • Listens to patients' opinions and concerns.
  • Encourages patients to ask questions.
  • Explains things in ways that are simple to understand.

See if patients felt that they:

  • Were comfortable during the appointment.
  • Spent enough time with the doctor.
  • Were given a chance to ask questions.
  • Had their questions answered clearly.

When searching for a new doctor, always exercise caution. Take all recommendations with a grain of salt, and consider the biases that people might have in writing their reviews. Remember also that many people don't write reviews unless they're extremely satisfied or particularly unhappy, so you're more likely to see very high and very low reviews than average ones.

While reviews are important in making your decision, be sure to check the credentials of any potential doctors through a site such as Certification Matters, a site put together by the American Board of Medical Specialties. Your insurance company's website may also tell you important information about a doctor.

A doctor might seem flawless on paper, but you should never feel pressured to sign on with a doctor if you aren't completely satisfied and comfortable. Use all the information available to you, and listen to your instincts to ensure that you are happy with your health care provider.

Every person has a different idea of what makes a good doctor. If a patient rating doesn't live up to your expectations, stay positive and keep looking. Taking the time to find the best doctor possible is worth the effort.

Posted in Personal Health

Julia is a freelance journalist specializing in health, tech, lifestyle, and culture reporting. Her work has appeared in People.com, USA Today College, Parents.com, and Healthline, among other publications.

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*This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute health care advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or physician before making health care decisions.