How to Choose a Doctor
Choosing the right doctor is a decision that will affect you and your family for months, even years. It's not something you should take lightly, but with an informed and deliberate approach to finding a doctor who is right for you and the ones you love.
The team at Adventist Health Glendale (AHGL) has prepared this guide to inform you about the choices available from typical health plans. We encourage you to consider your options carefully so that you can make the best possible decision.
Points to Consider Before You Choose
1. Find out which doctors are available to you.
Your particular insurance plan may require that you choose from a specific list of physicians for all of your insurance-covered medical care. Other plans require that you go to one on a pre-selected list of physicians if you want to pay the lowest possible co-payment.
Ask your health plan or physician group for a copy of their most recent provider directory. Also, be sure to find out how to change doctors if you don't like the one you've selected, as well as how often you can make such a change.
If the physician you prefer isn't available through your current health plan, you might consider changing plans. To find a physician in your area, call (818) 409-8000.
2. Choose a doctor who fits your current needs
Most of your medical care will likely come from a physician who can address a wide range of medical needs that you and your family might have. These physicians usually come from among the following four specialties:
- Family Medicine - These physicians offer general family health care for all ages. A family physician may be a good choice if you wish to select one doctor for your entire family.
- Internal Medicine - Internists provide medical care to adults, age 18 and older. These doctors are especially effective in treating chronic conditions, such as hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes.
- OB/GYN - Specialists in obstetrics and gynecology have training in the full range of reproductive issues for women, from childbirth to menopause.
- Pediatrics - Pediatricians specialize in children's health care from infancy through adolescence.
3. Remember that choosing a doctor also means choosing a hospital.
Doctors are usually affiliated with specific medical centers. If you prefer a particular medical center, check to be sure that the physician you are choosing can admit patients to that medical center. Your health plan directory will most likely have this information.
4. Don't overlook convenience
Your doctor's office should be located near your home or workplace, whichever is more convenient for you. It's also a good idea to visit, or at least call, the prospective doctor's office and speak with his or her office staff before making a choice. Ask questions such as:
- How long does it take to get an appointment?
- Who will I see if my primary care physician is temporarily unavailable?
- Do you offer early morning, evening and/or weekend hours?
Planning to Be Healthy
After you have selected your new doctor, it is in your best interest to take advantage of any health education programs that are offered by your health plan or local hospital. You may have access to wellness programs that teach you how to live a healthier lifestyle. For example, learning to eat wisely, add more exercise to your life or stop smoking can pay big dividends in terms of your overall well-being.
Also be sure to take advantage of any available health screenings, which can detect early signs of disease and literally save your life. Check with your doctor and hospital for a schedule of these screenings in your area. Many medical centers also now carry information about education and screenings on their Internet web site. To learn more or to register for more than 50 free or low-cost health education classes and screenings offered at AHGL, visit our health education web page, or simply call (818) 409-8000.
For More Information
To find a doctor that meets your special needs, click here. Or take advantage of AHGL's physician referral and health information service, by clicking here. Multilingual counselors can tell you about specific doctors' health plan affiliations, background, credentials, languages spoken and so forth.
Spending a few minutes right now to choose the best doctor and medical center for you and your family will mean better care and peace of mind in the future. Call us today to ask any questions you may have about physician selection. You'll be glad you did!
Call (818) 409-8000.