Staying with a doctor you’re not happy with is as harmful as staying in a relationship you know is bad. You should have a good healthcare provider that you have established a good relationship with. You are trusting them with your health and the health of your family. If you find yourself relating to any of the following reasons, it may be time to start looking for a new doctor.
1. You are tired of over-paying.
Healthcare costs are definitely not cheap, and with co-pays and deductibles, most people pause to make sure they “really need to go” before making an appointment at a doctor’s office. You may be paying higher co-pays than necessary. If you are seeing someone considered a “specialist”, you will often have a higher co-pay than seeing someone in primary care (a general practitioner, internal medicine, or family physician). Urgent cares also have higher co-pays than seeing your regular doctor. Also, if you are seeing someone out of network with your insurance, you will have higher co-pays, and often will also owe a portion of the overall bill. The cheapest option for the patient is to establish care with an in network primary care physician.
2. You rarely are seen by your doctor, and can only get in with a PA or nurse.
Now, this does not mean that there aren’t fantastic physician assistants and nurse practitioners out there, because there most certainly are. Today though, it happens frequently that you can’t get in with your doctor, and are seen by the different PA’s and NP’s in the practice. This means that each visit, you are starting over with your healthcare. They don’t know you, or your history. You are also seeking the care of a specific provider and not ever getting to see them means you aren’t getting the care you think you need.
3. Your healthcare provider does not respect your time.
Do you routinely wait for an hour or more before being seen by a doctor? Do you feel rushed through the visit? Have you had visits moved or canceled by the doctor’s office? There are many ways that your healthcare provider can be disrespectful of your time. To get to your appointment, it often means rearranging your schedule or taking time off work, so cancellations, or a physician running way behind schedule can be infuriating and disruptive. Make sure to find a provider and office that values your time as much as the physicians.
4. You and your healthcare provider don’t mesh.
A physician-patient relationship is just that, a relationship. It is based on trust and open communication. You need to be able to relay all problems and feel comfortable enough to ask any and all questions you have. If the personalities of you and your provider aren’t a good fit, it can be impacting the care you receive. For example, some people want very blunt speaking physicians, others want compassion and hand holding. If there is a mismatch, neither person is at fault. You need to find a provider that you mesh with.
5. You find yourself lying to your provider.
Many of you may find yourself lying to your healthcare provider. While it may be over somewhat little things (“yes of course dentist, I floss my teeth twice a day every day!”), it symbolizes that there is discomfort and lack of trust with your healthcare provider. You should not be afraid to admit to a bad behavior (smoking those extra cigarettes, sneaking that piece of cake despite your diabetes, not going out for that jog and instead sitting on the couch). You need to be open and honest with your provider so you get the best care. After all, how can the provider help you address the problem if they do not know it is there! If you find yourself tweaking the facts so your provider doesn’t judge you, or worse yet, so they won’t yell at you, it may be time to find a provider who will help you address your healthcare concerns better and be more encouraging and empathetic.
6. You never hear from your healthcare provider again.
Doctors should be available for follow-up questions or concerns. Technology has made everyone more accessible. Some offices have after hours on- call lines. Others have email, electronic medical records, and messaging systems that all make it easier to reach your doctor without actually having to be in the office for an appointment. You also should hear from the doctor after your appointment to relay any blood work or imaging results. Stop assuming that “no news is good news” or “if I don’t hear anything, everything must be normal!”
7. Your plan of care doesn’t change as your symptoms change.
Feeling better sometimes takes time. It means follow-up visits to ensure that your treatment is working and you are headed in the right direction. If your treatment is not working, and your provider doesn’t have any other options or alternative plans of care, then it may be time to discuss how you feel with another provider. For example: for several visits being told that chronic cough is just allergies, despite trying allergy medications and seeing no improvement in your symptoms.
8. The office staff is unprofessional
The office staff is just as much of your healthcare as the provider. Just like any other business, if the person who answers the phone is rude, or the nurse is condescending, you should find another office. You wouldn’t let your waiter be rude to you, don’t let the office staff.
9. Research your provider on your state’s online licensing boards website.
Each healthcare provider is licensed with their state medical board. You can get online and look up each provider, and find any prior suspensions, disciplinary actions, hearings, etc. If you find anything that makes you uncomfortable, it is time to change.
10. You just heard about a fantastic new practice or provider.
Word of mouth can sometimes be the best way to find what works best for you. If you have friends or family who love their physician, listen, and give them a try. It doesn’t hurt to “shop around” for your healthcare provider to make sure you have one you feel most comfortable with. You want to get the best care possible