When the average person chooses a doctor, he or she simply performs an online search to find local doctors. People then narrow their search results, often based on things like pricing, expertise, and whether a particular doctor is in the network for their health plan or not.

While the above strategy is not a bad one, it’s also not the best way to find a doctor.

Just choosing using the above criteria in mind isn’t enough to guarantee you a good, trustworthy doctor. So, you may be wondering – what is?

One of the best ways for finding a doctor is through a company and service called HealthGrades. With this service, doctors from all over the United States are assigned a rating based on a number of factors and compiled data.

By reviewing a doctor’s health grades, and similar services, it becomes much easier to find a good, quality doctor who has a long history of providing superior service. And, fortunately, HealthGrades isn’t your only option for making a smart choice.

Read Online Reviews from Real Patients

In addition to using HealthGrades and similar sites, you are also encouraged to check out consumer reviews written by real patients just like you.

While this might sound easy, you have to be careful to ensure that you are actually reading consumer reviews. There are a lot of paid reviews and testimonials out there that may not reflect actual patient experiences.

To avoid these false reviews, get your reviews from trustworthy sites, such as RateMDs.

Make sure to read several different reviews of any doctor you are considering using.

All too often, people allow themselves to be swayed by one or two really bad or really good reviews. However, to get a full and accurate picture of what a healthcare provider is like and of the services he or she provides to customers, you need to read a range of different reviews.

What you want to look for is a pattern of mostly positive reviews. Even the best doctor cannot please every patient, but if most of the reviews for a particular healthcare provider are good, then you’re more likely to have a good experience with that physician as well.

No matter what your experience, always return the favor to the review site and help other patients by writing your own review.

Ask for Word of Mouth Reviews

While online reviews can definitely be helpful, don’t forget that you also have access to a treasure trove of information through your friends, family members, and others you associate with.

Almost everyone has seen a doctor at some point, and many people see healthcare professionals regularly. Thus, by asking your friends about doctors they’ve seen and their experiences, you can gather a lot of useful information.

Just like with online reviews, take what you hear with a grain of salt, but do let it assist you in making a decision as to which doctor is right for you.

Do Some “Checking Up” On Your Doctor

In addition to getting in-person and online reviews when choosing a doctor, do a little research of your own.

For example, you can go to Medicare.gov and search for the doctor you are thinking of using. The website will provide information about the doctor and whether he or she has participated in activities or uploaded documents to demonstrate that he or she has high-quality training and/or provides high-quality care.

Also, if your doctor claims to have special certifications or awards that speak to his or her quality, check to make sure these things are true. If a doctor claims to be certified with a particular organization, for example, check out that organization’s website or place a quick phone call to validate these claims.

Your health is the most important asset that you possess, so you really can’t be too careful when it comes to ensuring you are properly cared for and by someone who knows his stuff.

Choose a Doctor Who Understands Your Needs

One final thing to keep in mind is that you always need to choose a health care professional who understands your specific needs.

For people who are generally healthy, this isn’t really a big deal. Any quality general care provider should work.

If you have special health concerns, however, such as diabetes or a history of heart disease, then you’ll need to be more careful about selecting your health care provider. Choose someone who is familiar with your specific needs and who can provide the best treatment and health management options possible.

As you can see, you have lots of doctors to choose from, but it’s important to use all the tools at your disposal to choose the very best one for you.

(If you are looking for a doctor in Houston, check out post on Houston Doctors. If you are looking for a doctor in New York City, check our post on NY Doctor profile.)

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