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Savvy Living

Saturday May 25, 2024

Savvy Senior

How to Find a Doctor

Can you recommend any resources to help me locate doctors in my area? I am looking for an orthopedic doctor for my elderly parent and a new internist for myself.

Finding and researching doctors is easier than it used to be. Today, there are a variety of websites you can turn to that provide databases of U.S. doctors, their professional medical histories, and ratings and reviews from past patients on several criteria. Here are some good tips to help you find the right doctors.

Searching Tips

To help you locate doctors in your area, the first step is to get referrals from trusted friends, or any doctors, nurses or other healthcare professionals you know. You should also check with your insurance provider. Your insurance provider can provide you with a list of approved doctors or confirm whether the doctor you are considering is in-network.

If your parent is enrolled in original Medicare, you can use the care compare tool at Medicare.gov/care-compare – and click on “Doctors & Clinicians.” This will let you find doctors by name, medical specialty or geographic location who accept original Medicare. If your parent is enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, call or visit the plan website to get a list of approved candidates. Once you find a few doctors, you should call their office to verify that they accept your insurance and are accepting new patients.

You should also consider hospital affiliation. Your choice of doctor can determine which hospital you visit, if needed, so find out where the doctor has admitting privileges. Then, use hospital ratings services like Medicare.gov/care-compare (click on “Hospitals”) to see how it compares with other hospitals in the area.

Researching Doctors

If you find a doctor that you are interested in, there are various websites you can consult with to help you evaluate them. For example, some medical organizations may offer tools that list a doctor’s board certifications, educational background, active state licenses and whether or not they have been disciplined by a state medical board.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is also a good source for researching doctors. The CMS website has a tool to help determine how many times a doctor has performed a particular procedure and their prices. To find this tool, go to Data.CMS.gov/tools and click on “Medicare Physician & Other Practitioner Look-up Tool.” To learn about the financial relationship that doctors have with drug and medical device companies, visit OpenPaymentsData.CMS.gov.

Physician rating websites also offer an online database of doctors, dentists and hospitals. These websites provide information on education and training, hospital affiliations, board certification, awards and recognitions, professional misconduct, disciplinary action, office locations and accepted insurance plans.

Some websites may also offer rating scales from past patients on issues such as communication and listening skills, wait time, time spent with the patient, office friendliness and more. However, keep in mind that while physician rating websites can be helpful, they can also be misleading and unreliable.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.


Published May 17, 2024
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