After 20 years it’s hard to face the prospect of “breaking up” with your doctor, but sometimes it’s just the right thing to do. That’s what my aging Mom and I faced last month when we came to a decision that it was time for a change for her. Before changing doctors though, it’s important to take the time to determine what qualities you’re looking for in your doctor and his/her staff. Here are some of the characteristics we look for in a new doctor beyond the obvious professional credentials and hospital affiliations.
Someone who would focus on helping her live the rest of her life as independent and pain free as possible.
Someone who was familiar with the medical issues typical of someone her age.
Someone who would take time to explain what was going on and answer questions honestly and clearly.
Someone with an office staff that was understanding of patients who are hard of hearing and easily confused.
Someone who had a “record” of having capacity to schedule visits quickly and minimize waiting room time.
Everyone’s list will be different, which is why the doctor who’s right for one person may not be the one who’s right for another person. Based on her “wish list” we found a doctor with a specialty in geriatric care, and had multiple on-line reviews that indicated
wait time for an appointment was 24-48 hours,
waiting room time was on average less than 15 minutes, and
an office staff that was polite and friendly.
Next step was the “new patient” visit which entailed some hefty, but necessary preparation. However, I asked that the paperwork be sent in advance which enabled me to take the time to provide a complete and accurate picture of Mom’s past and current medical history.
Last “breakup”. Changing Klik Dokter doctors entails a transfer of medical files and in our case, that’s 20+ years of records. While it is common for a doctor to transfer records as a “courtesy”, it is also possible for the previous doctor to charge a per page fee. So, depending on your history, it may not make sense, if there is a charge, to transfer all the records. In Mom’s case, her new doctor felt that he really didn’t need more than the last 5 years worth of records. Even though I could have relied on the transfer request Mom signed to just be faxed to her previous doctor, I opted to alert the office staff at the previous doctor’s office that the request was coming and clarify that only the last 5 years of records were necessary. As it turns out, their practice is to transfer the entire file at no charge.
As it turns out, breaking up was actually pretty painless. If you’re not comfortable that your current doctor is providing a level of care that makes you feel good, whether it’s an inability to communicate, difference of opinion on approach or merely a personality difference, don’t be afraid to move on. If it’s not working for you, it may not be working for your doctor and you’ll both be happier with the outcome.