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March 21, 2012 1 Logan Herald-Observer and Woodbine Twiner: How to Guide How to . . . ... choose a physician EVERYONE EVENTUALLY GETS SICK Sooner or later everyone gets sick, so sooner or later everyone needs a doctor. But finding the right physician is not always easy. Since people require different things from their physicians, it’s difficult to provide blanket guidelines to find a good doctor. But there are some basic tips everyone can find useful. BASIC TIPS A good first step is to ask friends and family members who have had good experiences with a physician. Second, contact clinics and hospitals in your area. A good doctor is a combination of someone with good medical skills and good interpersonal skills the patient can relate to. The best way to find out if a doctor has these qualities is to ask questions: • Where did the doctor go to school? • Where did they do their residency? • Where did they intern? • Is the doctor boardcertified in his or her area of specialization? • Patients should ask about after-hours coverage. Who handles it and how is it done? Another important question is how often the doctor wants to see the patient. Do they want to see the patient on a regular basis or just when they are sick? Preventive health services can be important to some patients. Does the doctor provide screening exams, immunizations and other such services? What about office hours? Is the doctor’s office open in the evenings or on weekends? How does the doctor’s office handle scheduling? What other services does the clinic offer? At what hospital is the physician on staff? Many of these questions have no right or wrong answers. It just depends on what fits the patient’s needs. BE HONEST Patients should be upfront about what they are looking for in a physician and ask questions to find out if the doctor they are seeing will fit their needs. Sometimes it may take several visits to different doctors to find one that a patient can relate to and feels comfortable with. If a doctor is inattentive, doesn’t get along with the patient or the patient is uncomfortable talking with the physician, they may want to seek another doctor. STAFF IS IMPORTANT, TOO A doctor’s staff can be a reflection upon the physician. For example, a good doctor should have a staff member explain why a patient has to wait a long time. Patients, in turn, need to be patient because emergencies can happen. The next time the emergency could involve the patient that once had to wait. Finally, payment for medical services must be considered. Patients need to make sure doctors they are looking at take their insurance. If patients don’t have insurance, they need to make sure they can reach a payment arrangement with the doctor. Finding a good doctor is not an easy task. The right relationship between a doctor and a patient is dif- ferent for every person. The task is further complicated by the fact many people don’t regularly see a doctor. Patients need to do their part to help doctors in the relationship. THE INITIAL VISIT When seeing a new physician, a patient should bring any medication they are taking and should be able to put in writing why they are taking the drugs. Patients should also know any medications to which they are allergic, and the nature of the allergic reaction. They should also be prepared to give the doctor a good personal medical history. The history should include any past or present chronic conditions, any family history of diseases such as diabetes, cancer or heart disease and a list of surgeries the patient has had. Patients may also want to write down any questions they want to ask the physician. Despite the difficulties, finding the right doctor can increase the length and quality of a patient’s life. IMPORTANT POINTS • Get references from family and friends. • Ask questions. • Be up-front about what you are looking for. • A doctor’s staff can be a reflection on the physician. • Payment for medical services must be considered. QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT • What doctors are covered by your insurance? • What are the doctor’s qualifications? • Do you and the doctor communicate well? • Can this doctor provide what you require from your primary care physician? AFTER HOURS CLINIC Evening and Saturday Hours For Your Healthcare AFTER HOURS CLINIC HOSPITAL LOCATION 631 N. 8th St., Missouri Valley HOURS: Monday- Friday 5 p.m. - 9 p.m. Saturday: 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. 712-642-2784 This is your healthcare Alegent Health Logan Clinic 122 West 8th St. Logan, Iowa, 51546 (712) 644-3288 Alegent Health Missouri Valley Clinic Located in Hospital Missouri Valley,Iowa 51555 (712) 642-2794 Alegent Health Woodbine Clinic Alegent Health Dunlap Clinic 518 Lincoln Way St. 410 Ely Street Woodbine, Iowa 51579 707 Iowa Ave. Dunlap, Iowa 51529 (712) 647-2566 (712) 643-2298

Health How-To, March 2012

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