Each year, roughly 36 million Americans move to a new home. If you are among them, you’ve probably already dedicated some serious time to checking out your local grocery stores, finding out what restaurants deliver to your new address or searching for service providers, such as landscapers or professional decorators. One thing you might be putting off, though, is searching for a new doctor.
When you are healthy and feel like your to-do list is already several miles long, finding a new healthcare provider may not seem like a huge priority. The truth, though, is locating a new doctor should be one of your primary concerns. Even if you’re healthy, you never know when you might need treatment for something like a sinus infection, suffer a medical emergency or even develop a chronic health condition, like diabetes or high blood pressure. Taking the time to find a doctor now means you will be prepared if and when you need to be seen. Though you may still be feeling some serious attachment to your old doctor and her cute scrub jackets, it is vital to find someone new as soon as you move to a new city. Since there are many salient issues in choosing a new doctor, here are some tips to help you get started!
Start Researching Before You Move
If you’re reading this after relocating to a new city, it’s too late for this step. But if you are still in the planning stages of relocating, consider doing some research on doctors in your new city before you move.
An online search will likely yield several results for doctors in your new city. You could also try checking in with your current doctor to see if they have any colleagues, old classmates, etc. working in your new city who they recommend. Once you have a few names, you can dig a bit deeper to find patient satisfaction scores and reviews of various practices.
When you come across a doctor or practice that sounds promising, consider scheduling an appointment. If they offer telehealth services, you can schedule an appointment anytime. If not, set one up for shortly after you arrive in your new city. You may not want to go to the doctor when you first arrive in your new home and are dealing with unpacking, getting utilities turned on, decorating, etc., but it’s important to establish yourself as a patient somewhere as soon as possible. After all, you could sprain an ankle while carrying boxes into your new home or discover you have allergies you didn’t have to deal with in your previous city.
Pay Attention to Education, Experience and Certifications
While all doctors in the United States need to undergo extensive training before they are legally allowed to treat patients, they don’t all have the same educational background or certifications. When researching doctors, do some digging to discover how long they have been in practice, what their specialties are and what certifications they have. It doesn’t hurt to look into where they obtained their medical degree, too, and do some research on the school they attended.
Investigating a doctor’s certifications is especially important if you require specialized care. If you suffer from serious allergies, for example, a doctor who is certified in Allergy and Immunology would be more beneficial to you than one who is certified in Pediatrics.
Check Out the Hospitals in Your New City
In addition to doing your homework and finding a doctor who sounds appealing, it’s important to check out the hospitals in your area. Even if you are healthy, it is a good idea to learn more about the various hospitals in your new city and what types of services each provides. You may find the doctor you are considering going to is affiliated with one of the lowest-rated hospitals in the region. This could, of course, become problematic if you ever require treatment outside of what can be done in your doctor’s office. When evaluating hospitals, pay close attention to patient ratings and reviews to get a feel for whether they pay attention to important things like patient safety and sanitation tips for healthcare professionals.
While no one wants to think about suffering a serious illness or injury, it is important to know where to turn in the event of an emergency. Research which hospitals in your area provide emergency services, which ones have certified trauma centers, etc. Uncovering this information will help ensure you know where to turn in a situation where every second counts.
Consider Your Insurance Coverage
If you moved to a new city to start a job with a new company, your insurance coverage has likely changed. When you’re looking for a new doctor, make sure to look for ones who accept the type of insurance you have (or will soon have). Take the time to learn about your new co-pays, deductibles and policies for things like being referred to a specialist.
Once you’ve found a potential doctor who is in your insurance provider’s network, contact them to inquire about the services they provide and whether they are accepting new patients. Also, find out how long it takes to get in for an appointment. If your prospective new doctor is so popular it takes several months just to get in for an appointment, you may want to consider looking elsewhere, as long as there are other in-network healthcare providers in your area.
If you are having trouble finding a doctor who meets your needs, consider reaching out to your insurance provider directly. They should be able to help you locate a physician or another healthcare provider in your new city who accepts your insurance and will meet your needs.
The Bottom Line
If you’re moving to a new city, you need a new doctor. There’s just no way around it. With some patience and careful research, you can find another doctor who wears cool scrubs (just like your old one!) and will be there to provide for all of your healthcare needs.