Submitted by Health Karma, November 2021
Picture this: You've just wrapped up an appointment with your doctor. You've left the office, and something didn't feel right. Your visit didn't go as expected, and the doctor skirted a few of your questions. Overall, you're not happy with the care you received and are starting to ask, "Should I break up with my doctor?"
There are a few red flags to look out for when considering finding a new doctor. For example, if your doctor fails to adequately explain to you what your disease is and how to treat it, leaving you more confused than ever, it might be time to find someone else. Also, be wary if your doctor prescribes you medications without discussing the pros and cons or presents treatment options with a bias toward a specific drug. Be mindful, too, of whether your doctor collaborates well with other physicians.
If you've worked with a specific doctor for several years, it might be hard to imagine life without them. Still, if the past year has taught us anything, it's the importance of adequate, personalized healthcare with a doctor who makes you feel, well, cared for.
Finding a New Doctor (and What Makes a Good One)
If you're wondering whether you should call it quits with your current doctor, it's helpful to understand the skills your doctor should have. The best care providers are great listeners, so you should never struggle to know how to communicate with your doctor. High-quality doctors are also empathetic and conscientious, and they help patients feel cared for. Patients shouldn't leave their appointments feeling like the doctor didn't ask the necessary questions, listen to them, or explore all treatment options.
If your doctor falls short in any of these areas, it might be time to make a change. But switching can feel daunting. What works for one patient might not work for you, and your doctor might have been there for you through several ups and downs in life, including major health crises. Staying with a doctor you're not happy with, however, is a lot like staying in a bad relationship because you're scared of being alone. It's OK to move on from a doctor-patient relationship for your well-being.
Still, you might have a few reservations about switching doctors or offending your former one. But you don't have to worry. You are your own best advocate, and you decide your path to wellness. The only consequence you need to worry about is what could go wrong if you choose to maintain the status quo with a physician you don't feel is providing you with the best care.
How to Find a New Doctor: Best Practices for Making a Switch
If breaking up with your doctor feels scary, you're not alone. In fact, plenty of people switch providers. If you are in the process of finding a new doctor, remember these important tips:
1. Have a plan before you leave.
If you anticipate switching doctors, try to have a plan and new provider in place before doing so. While a number of things propel people to switch doctors — some do so if they have to wait too long before appointments often, some if their doctors have a poor bedside manner or attitude, and some if they simply do not appreciate the provider's facility or capabilities — it's key, regardless, to ensure you have a new doctor before leaving your current one. Remember to also verify whether the next doctor accepts new patients, takes your insurance, or can make an appointment in the near future.
2. Help your doctor understand why you are leaving.
When people change providers, they often think: "It's no big deal. I just won't return." Let your doctor know why you're leaving because that helps them improve for all of the other patients they see. Doctors are usually busy with hundreds of new patients and might not realize they're doing something off-putting unless you speak up. Before you officially leave, schedule one last appointment to give honest, constructive feedback and to also start the process of collecting medical records. You could also detail this information in a note or email for your provider. Doctors and their staff want to know whether they are losing a patient and how they can improve moving forward.
3. Take recommendations.
If you're wondering what a good source for finding a new physician is, the best might be your peers. Ask someone you trust — either another doctor you know or friends and family. You can also start your search at Health Karma. We offer a single hub of information that helps you find the provider that’s right for you. You can filter by network, location, type of care, gender, language, rating, and more.
Having the right doctor is one of the most important steps in a health journey. Sometimes, finding that doctor requires making a change. To learn more about how to navigate your healthcare journey, visit us here.