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New Doctor Questions

Being chronically ill often includes interacting with different and new health professionals. There
might even be times when you have to seek out a new doctor or specialist yourself.

Essential questions when choosing the right healthcare provider

When looking for a new doctor or specialist, finding someone who meets your healthcare needs and makes you feel comfortable is important. Here are some ideas for questions you can ask when searching for a new GP or specialist to help you decide if they are going to be a good fit!

There are three basic categories of questions we will cover:

  1. Aptitude questions
  2. Approach questions
  3. Administrative questions

Aptitude questions

These are questions you want to ask about the doctor or specialist's basic competency and educational history. These can include questions like:

  • What is your educational and training background?
  • Are you board certified?
  • What experience and education do you have in dealing with my particular health condition(s)?
  • Do you have experience coordinating care with family doctors, specialists, hospitals or other
    healthcare providers?
  • How do you approach preventative or screening tests?
  • How do you address prescription refills and medication management?

Approach questions

These questions will help you determine whether the health professional will be a good fit for you in ways outside their formal training. Asking questions about a healthcare professional's experience working with marginalized communities or diagnoses may be scary.

However, asking approach questions can also be a good indicator of the likelihood of having a stigmatizing experience. Questions that can help you to determine if their approach is going to work for you can look like this:

  • What is your philosophy of care?
  • What is your communication style? Do you prefer direct or more gentle communication?
  • What are your policies on patient involvement in making care decisions?
  • How do you interact with patients who have stigmatized or marginalized diagnoses?

Administrative questions

The last category of questions you should ask when looking for a new doctor is “administrative.” These are questions relating to the practical operation of the doctor and their office. Questions that you should ask in this category are:

  • What are your office hours, and how do you handle after-hours emergencies?
  • How do you prefer to communicate with patients? (phone, email, in-person, virtually)
  • What insurance plans do you accept, and what are your billing policies?
  • What administrative or office fees do you charge and when?
  • Do you offer telehealth or virtual care?
  • What is your process for complaints and dispute resolution?

Finding a new doctor or specialist can be daunting. Especially when living with a highly stigmatized diagnosis like hepatitis C. Knowing what questions to ask when deciding if a new healthcare provider is a good fit can help us make informed decisions about our health and well-being. Knowing your healthcare provider's history, guiding principles, and how they operate can go a long way in providing peace of mind and building trust.

We all deserve to feel confident in our healthcare providers and to know we are in good hands!

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