5 Tips to Choose a Doctor You Can Talk To

When you’re at ease with your doctors, you can help them do their job well. Selecting a doctor you can talk to about your symptoms or concerns enhances the quality of your care, says Dr. Earlexia Norwood a family medicine physician and director of Practice Development for Henry Ford Medical Group and service chief of Family Medicine for West Bloomfield Hospital.

If you don’t feel comfortable with your physician, it puts you at increased risk of serious illness or even death, she says. Most people won’t share critical information with people they don’t trust. Or you avoid doctor visits for minor issues that may become major due to neglect. “When people are deciding on a doctor, I’m always surprised when someone chooses a physician whose recommendations they don’t understand or with whom they can’t connect,” says Dr. Norwood. “You don’t want to nod your head in agreement if you are not grasping or don’t trust what’s being said.”

Number 1 Set up an interview

Schedule a meeting to interview the physician. Bring your questions, ask about their philosophy of care and see if you like talking with them. Determine if there is mutual respect to build a trustworthy relationship. You can see how they treat people by watching how they interact with their staff. “It’s OK to switch doctors if you’re not satisfied with your care, if there’s a language barrier or if you’re simply not connecting with them. Patients feel obligated to stay when they are not. I hear, ‘I don’t want to hurt their feelings,’ or, ‘I can’t see another doctor in the same practice,’ but that’s not true,” she says. You can change at any point, even if a doctor was recommended or referred to you by one of your other physicians.

Number 2 Trust your gut

You are looking for the best match for you and your health care. Credentials are important, such as being board-certified, having fellowships and continuing medical education. You also need to look at their bedside manner. Does he or she listen and sit with you? Does the doctor go over the test results? “If it is important enough to take the tests and draw your blood, it is equally important to go over the results,” she says.

Number 3 Create your checklist

Know what you are looking for. Are you interested more in women’s health or sports medicine? Look to see if the doctor has a similar philosophy as you. Would you feel more comfortable with a man or a woman? Do you want a doctor associated with a specific hospital? Would a small or large practice work best for you? Does the practice have convenient hours? Use our doctor's office checklist to make the most of your visit.

Number 4 Dig deep

Look at a physician’s online profile. Satisfaction scores are good to know, but patient comments are even better. People post both good and bad experiences. Ask family, friends and other health professionals who they would recommend. Be sure to ask questions about why they like their doctor. Does their doctor give them more face-to-face time or explain health care options carefully?

Number 5 Seek compassion

Look for a connection. Do you sense they care? Is the doctor looking for a way to find answers and not just ordering the most expensive tests? “I think the priority of touch is being lost. Some doctors want to do everything electronically and don’t want to touch the patient. Being able to feel with your hands and practicing the art of medicine is valued at the Henry Ford Medical Group – not just ordering ultrasounds. It is also important to minimize costs and to avoid unnecessary tests, which may put patients at risk,” says Dr. Norwood. A doctor who is patient-centered knows their limitations and knows when it is time for you to be seen by someone else, she says. “It’s not just your health care, it’s your life,” she says. “Choose your physicians wisely.”

telehealth iconTo find a doctor, visit our provider search tool. Or log in for a personalized search based on your plan and to select a primary care physician.

Categories: Get To Know Your Plan