Q: How do I pick a good doctor?

A:  This is a terrific question –and one I get asked frequently. When someone asks me about choosing a doctor, the first thing I ask is, “What is important to you in a doctor?” Some people may want a physician that has a specific certification or went to a specific medical school. Do you want a physician who gets straight to the point and is no nonsense? Would you like a physician who spends a lot of time with you and has a good bedside manner? These are very different qualities that may also reflect in the office experience. Once you have determined what is important to you, ask for recommendations from people you know and trust.

Health Insurance

An important factor to consider is your health insurance. Your health insurance may require you to choose from a list of doctors in your plan’s network. Some insurance plans let you choose a doctor outside of your network, but may necessitate a larger co-pay. In order to find a doctor that takes your insurance, you will need to call your insurance company and ask for a list of doctors near you. Alternately, you can use the company’s website to search for a doctor. After making a selection, it’s a good idea to call the doctor’s office and confirm they take your insurance. Have your insurance card handy in case they need details about your plan.

Questions to Ask

Dig a little deeper for information.

  • Is the doctor accepting new patients at this time?
  • Is the doctor part of a “group?” If so, who are the other physicians and how often will they be covering for my physician?
  • At which local hospital does my physician have privileges? Does he/she see patients there or use a hospitalist (a doctor who works in a hospital). If he/she uses a hospitalist, how will my care needs be communicated?
  • Does the doctor have experience treating my particular medical conditions?
  • Are appointments available only during office hours, or are weekend, evening and virtual appointments available?
  • What is the appointment cancellation policy?
  • How long will it take to get an appointment?
  • How long does each appointment typically last?
  • Are labs and x-rays available in the office?

With these answers satisfied, you’ll likely be ready to choose. For additional guidance, call The Experts in Aging at One Senior Place in Viera and Greater Orlando.

One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to, call 321-751-6771 or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging.

Lisa Conway is a Registered Nurse and a Certified Care Manager for Senior Partner Care Services, Viera.