Generally, doctors who specialize in the care of children are called pediatricians. There are other types of doctors who can care for your child such as family practitioners. You’ll want to do your research to ensure the doctor you choose is a good fit for you and your family. These steps will help you get started:
- Talk to your insurance company. Ask them to send you a list of doctors in your area that are in-network.
- Ask family, friends, co-workers or neighbors for recommendations. Write down those that interest you.
- Cross-reference your lists and create a master list of pediatricians you may want to see or call to interview.
- Start calling. Many doctor’s offices have new-patient open houses or meet-and-greets that allow you an opportunity to check out the facility and speak with the doctors. Others may require you to schedule an appointment or chat over the phone.
What to look for in a doctor
Everyone has different preferences for doctors. The most important thing is choosing someone you feel is capable of providing your child the care he/she needs. Common things to consider:
- Hospital affiliation. This can be important if your child ever ends up needing emergency care or requires hospitalizations. While hospitals often employ pediatricians, or work with a practice that does rotations there, you may want your child’s actual doctor to examine them. If can be especially important if you’re expecting a baby and would like the doctor to examine baby after birth. If they’re affiliated with the hospital, it will be an easy thing to arrange. However, if they are not, you may have to settle for the hospital’s pediatrician on call.
- Look for doctors with active licenses and make sure they are board certified in their specialty.
- Location. Is the office conveniently located for you?
- Availability. If you need to schedule a visit for an illness, how quick are they able to get you an appointment? Are their office hours convenient for you? Do they allow walk-in appointments?
- After-hours availability. Who can you reach after hours? How do you reach the doctor? Is there a patient portal for questions, labs, appointment scheduling?
- Communication. Do the doctor and staff answer your questions in a way that you understand? Do you feel comfortable speaking with them? Are your language/cultural needs met?
- Waiting room. Is there a separate area of sick kids or healthy kids? Is it clean? How does the practice handle families who do not immunize their children? Do you agree with this?
Keep in mind…
If you choose a doctor, you’re not obligated to stick with him/her. You may really love the doctor at first, but may change your mind as you begin to see him/her, or you may get a recommendation for someone who sounds like a better fit for you and your family.
For Health Advocate members
If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to our Health Advocacy service, call us for personalized help. We can help locate in-network providers, make appointments, and explain your health plan coverage and costs, and more!