December 29, 2004

Curious George: Finding a good family doctor. What are the tricks for finding a family doctor in the US who values quality in their work? I live in Austin, Texas and I don't know anyone who's made enough doctor visits to have formed any opinion. Are the ratings sites (see right hand ads) worth the money? Or is it best just to take my chances?
  • Word of mouth.
  • i've found several very good docs through the american medical association physician locator. i've recommended it to friends who also had good luck. from what i understand -- and any physician monkeys out there may correct me here -- not all docs are members of the AMA, but if they are, it means they meet certain criteria, work hard to keep current on research, etc.
  • My wife used to live in Austin and was very fond of her GP, Dr. Elliot Trester. He also served as her OBG/YN.
  • Did he practice his love with patients?
  • I looked through the guide provided by my insurance company. It listed years in practice- I picked the guy near me with the most experience.
  • You don't practice love, Nostrildamus. Love is GAMETIME.
  • Definately go with word of mouth, caveat; only go with the name that was brought up the most.
  • You might google around listserv + [your health plan] + evaluation, or listserv [your city] internists
  • I'm in Austin, and pretty much stuck with Austin Regional Clinic. I've had better luck with their Physician's Assistants and Nurse Practitioners than with the actual doctors. My only real recommendation is don't pick Dr. Morrow. Which is, I'm sure, less than helpful, out of a whole city of doctors. :)
  • I just moved from Austin and had as my GP Dr. Erica Moeller-Ruiz, whom I liked very much. I'd followed her as she's moved between a few practices. She had a small private practice with a couple of other doctors that didn't work out and is now with one of the big practices, Austin Diagnostic Clinic, which I had reservations with but didn't have any trouble (other than a not-very responsive office/nursing staff, but that seems ubiquitous). I really liked her, she always spent plenty of time with me and didn't seem rushed. I didn't find her with word-of-mouth as I hadn't been in Austin long at the time, but people are right...the best way is word of mouth. It's too bad there isn't some better way to shop for a good doctor. I'm in Albuquerque now and have yet to find a family doctor for myself there.
  • I used to work in a doctor's office, and I'd always give out this advice to potential new patients: Go down the list your insurance gave you (if you have insurance), and call potential doctors. Ask them if they are accepting new patients on your insurance. (They may or may not be. Doctors have quotas of how many patients they'll accept on any one insurance... if the insurance company is difficult to deal with, the quota keeps getting smaller and smaller, with the doc only keeping established patients and never taking any new ones.) If the doc is accepting you, and your co-payment is affordable, go ahead and make an appointment to meet the doc. At the appointment, ask the doc questions: how long have they practiced, what hospitals do they work with, what is their philosophy of patient care, etc. Often, it's not really the answers to the questions you're interested in, but how the doc interacts with you. Is s/he nice? Does s/he seem to care? Does s/he seem competent? Is this someone you'd be willing to let touch you when you have a 103 degree fever? Most importantly, if the doc totally blows off your questions when you're healthy, you pretty much know they'd do the same when you're sick, and that's not a doc you want to work with.