For most Cincinnati seniors, there are few more important professional relationships than the one they share with their doctor. As we age, our medical issues often increase exponentially, making it critical to have a trusted physician on which to rely. But due to a rising shortage in family care doctors, this is becoming a tough challenge, particularly in underserved markets where health care is scarce.
For seniors transitioning into Medicare, the problem is often particularly acute. According to AARP, many primary doctors who are already deluged with business have now begun declining to accept new Medicare patients. This means seniors must go on an exhausting hunt for new doctors once they retire, or move, or have their current physician move their practice... and the list goes on.
So what’s behind this heightened demand? Some observers believe the new American Affordable Care Act (better known as "Obamacare") will create a significant doctor shortage. As tens of millions of Americans are projected to enter the health care system in the coming years, some analysts expect to see a significant increase in the demand for medical services—which will be further compounded by the fact that the United States is a rapidly graying country.
With a potential shortfall looming, it's more important than ever to have a strong relationship with a good doctor. If you’re looking for a new primary care provider, we five tips that can help you find the right physician.
Find a good location
Finding a doctor with an easily accessible office is important for anyone, but it's especially vital for Cincinnati seniors. As we age, we aren't always as mobile as we once were, so factoring time and travel distance into the equation makes sense when selecting a physician. And when a serious snow or thunderstorm strikes, you'll be thrilled you don't have far to travel. Along with travel time, office hours are another key consideration.
Consult friends and family
If choosing a physician you're comfortable with is the ultimate goal, what better resource to tap than trusted friends and family members? Personal referrals and word of mouth are far more likely to lead you in the right direction than simply reading a blurb in a physician's directory. Talk to people in your social circle to find out why they like their physician and use this information to draw up a list of potential candidates.
Take advantage of internet referrals
Searching online review sites is another smart way to research prospective doctors if you don't have a large group of friends and family members. You can find plenty of word of mouth reviews at major online review sites such as Yelp. Just remember to take some of these comments with the requisite grain of salt, however. You’re more likely to find only the negative reviews as online reviewers tend to be more motivated to post after a negative experience.
Interview prospective doctors
If you have time, why not schedule a brief interview before choosing your physician? A "getting to know you" chat is probably the best way to gauge doctor/patient chemistry, and it offers a great opportunity to find out more about your doctor's specialties and professional history. You can also get a first-hand glimpse of how the doctor's office operates.
Do your own background check
The doctor/patient relationship is an intimate one. You are trusting your physician to keep your personal medical information confidential and, most importantly, care for your overall health. A quick Google search is a good way to gather some basic biographical information on your physician. If you need to dig a little deeper, you can also check medical organizations and associations for any credentials a physician may have or claim.
Finding a new physician in today's climate isn't always easy. But Cincinnati seniors shouldn't feel intimidated by the process. By following the steps listed above, you can locate the family care doctor that best suits your needs.