By Charlene Offiong, Pharm.D.

The approach to choosing a physician for yourself or child can seem like a stressful and daunting experience but a few thought out questions of yourself and for the doctor can make it much more simpler. Listed below are a few things to consider for a physician from insurance eligibility to personnel demeanor.

The Basics
Because of the new wave of HMOs and PPOs changing healthcare there are few things to determine while choosing a physician. First, is the physician covered by your insurance plan and how are payments handled. Next, check where his office is located, what are his office hours, and whether they are closed on certain days and holidays. Lastly, but very important where does your doctor have hospital admitting privileges.

This is very important topic and often we do not learn how the physician's office deals with these until there is an emergency. Check to see how after hour emergencies are handled. Are the answered by a nurse practioner or other medical personnel or are there other doctors in the practice that handle these calls?

Practice Style
This may not be very important for one-time only trips to some offices such as the dermatologist but when choosing a general practioner, gynecologist, or pediatrician this can be very important. Does the physician have a very aggressive management style or are more cautious? How do they feel about alternative medicine? Are they empathetic to your religious beliefs. At this point you may have to ask yourself what do you consider important because you need to choose a physician that best suits your interests. Either way you should be able to freely as questions and feel comfortable with the physician. It may be helpful to check if your insurance will pay for a visit or consultation or if the physician will do a phone interview. If you are able to make a visit check out the staff? Are they courteous and respectful? Would you feel comfortable dealing with them in an emergency situation?

Checking with your family and friends can always provide good source of information on choosing a doctor but also try asking doctors that you are currently seeing, for example, Can your gynecologist recommend a pediatrician?

Charlene Offiong, Pharm.D., is a contributing editor of The Black Business Journal.