Many of us settle for mediocre healthcare for a variety of reasons, but dumping a less-than-stellar doctor can be key to your health. In fact, a study conducted by the New England Medical Center’s Institute for Improvement and Medical Care and Health in Boston found that normal blood pressure and blood sugar levels as well as self-reported health status were consistently related to the quality of the doctor-patient relationship.
Take a minute to think about your relationship with your doc. If she is someone you trust, is generally accessible and offers good advice and support, then you should stick with her. If she’s not, try to figure out why you still see her. Is it for any of the reasons below? If so, it could be time to find a new doctor.
“My doctor’s office is so convenient.”
When your doctor’s office is close enough to your workplace that you can get in and out during your lunch break, it’s easy to overlook how harried the doctor is or how the office never calls back with test results. Care trumps convenience—if you’re not getting great care, it doesn’t matter how close the office is.
The fix: Sites like yelp.com allow you to search for a doc by zip code (you can also read patient reviews). Or go the old-fashioned route by asking friends and family for a recommendation for a local doc.
“I don’t know who else to see.”
You have some issues with your doctor, but at least you know him and there’s comfort in the familiar. You’re reluctant to find someone new because it’s not easy entering into such a close and personal relationship with a total stranger.
The fix: After you get a few recommendations, call and talk to the receptionist at each office. Ask about the average wait time or the physician’s style of care. Then, ask to schedule a time to talk to the doctor himself—this can help give you a feel for his personality, philosophies and whether or not you’ll click.
“I feel guilty leaving.”
You’ve been with your doctor through countless colds, endless ear infections and a slew of stomachaches. You’re worried that he’ll be upset when you move on.
The fix: You won’t hurt your doctor’s feelings if you decide to part ways—physicians understand that there are all sorts of reasons patients seek care elsewhere. If you’re still uncomfortable breaking the news, you can make a request to have your records sent to your new doctor by fax or email. No messy break-up required!
How is your relationship with your doctor?