Hello and welcome back to another edition of Powerful Living Diabetes,
When was the last time you had to see a doctor? Like most people, you may have an insurance plan issued by your employer. You may need to reapply for the insurance plan each year. Sometimes insurance plans change completely. You may need to switch to a new insurance plan when this happens. Or you may need to find a new healthcare provider.
In any case, it can be challenging. But change is inevitable. The difference is how you embrace the change. However, it is important for a person living with diabetes to secure care from the best healthcare provider. It is also important to have regular check-ups. This is essential for diabetes monitoring.
There are different types of healthcare providers in today’s market. Of course, I’m biased in recommending that everyone living with type 2 diabetes see their doctor regularly.
Your primary care physician may employ a mid-level provider. An example would be a nurse practitioner or physician assistant. Politely insist that you be seen by your primary care physician at least on alternating office visits. You get the personal touch and connection of developing a relationship with your doctor.
Your doctor is also responsible for overseeing your care even if it uses a mid-level provider such as a nurse practitioner or physician assistant.
The following are “must-have tips” to ensure that you entrust your greatest asset – YOUR HEALTH – to the best healthcare provider.
Tip Number One– Make sure your doctor has an unrestricted medical license to practice in the state. That sounds like common sense. But it’s not. Also, check with your state licensing board. Find out if there are any bad reports against the doctor.
Tip Number Two – Find out if the doctor has current malpractice insurance. In some states, malpractice premiums are very high. Some doctors may choose not to carry malpractice insurance. However, they must notify you. Establishing care with such a doctor is probably not the best idea. It’s like driving without insurance. Malpractice insurance is simply a “cost of doing business.” So make sure your doctor is committed enough to their business by having malpractice insurance. You can check to see if there have been any malpractice claims against the doctor. This may not prevent you from deciding to continue care with this doctor. But at least you’ll know.
Tip Number Three – Find out if your doctor is board certified. Board certification is an important benchmark. It is important for a doctor to keep up with current medical trends. Board certification is a standard test that determines this. Before the 1990s, board certification was done only once. It was valid throughout the doctor’s career. The medical environment has undergone rapid changes. The American Board of Medical Specialties has decided to require recertification every 8-10 years. Many patients do not know this. But this information is public knowledge.
Tip Number Four – Make sure the doctor’s office hours work with your schedule. This is very important. Especially if you have a job that is not very flexible. Do you need to be at work 20-17 hours? Is your doctor’s office also open from 8pm to 5pm? This is not a good match. Are office hours an important factor in your decision? Before you decide to schedule an appointment, ask the receptionist what time it is. Look for an office that has evening or weekend meetings. As a diabetic, you cannot afford to miss seeing your doctor because you cannot get to him for any reason. This is an essential part of preventing long-term complications.
Tip Number Five – Find out how long it usually takes for your doctor to return your calls. I can’t tell you how often I hear this complaint as one of the reasons patients get upset and leave the doctor’s office. May I suggest that you both establish “ground rules” at your first visit with your new doctor? That way, both parties know what to expect – no surprises. For example, your doctor may have a policy that unless it is an emergency; it takes up to 24 hours to get back to you. Or she may ask her sister to get back to you to get more information before answering your question. At other times, your doctor may see you in the doctor’s office. For example, if your sugars have been rising for some time – this requires an office visit. But it is important to know in advance.
Tip Number Six – Know how your test results will be communicated in advance. Does your doctor send information about test results by letter or by phone? Or do they expect you to schedule a return visit? Knowing this in advance reduces any misunderstandings. The saying “no news is good news” does not apply to your health care. Always expect some form of communication regarding any tests performed on you.
Tip Number Seven – Some resources to find a doctor:
Seek referrals from friends and family. It is an added advantage if they have been long-term patients of the doctor.
Call your insurance company for a list of doctors they contract with. In most cases, the insurance company has already done a lot of searching. And he can answer all your questions about a particular doctor.
Check with your state licensing board.
Call your local hospital to see if they have a referral service.
As with good shoes, you may have to spend some time searching to find the right one for you. The important thing is to be persistent in your search. And never be afraid to leave a healthcare provider if you feel your needs aren’t being met. Be proactive about health. That’s what a strong life is all about.