Being diagnosed with a chronic illness is one of the hardest things that can happen to us in our lifetime. I was 22 when epilepsy unexpectedly barged through the doors of my life. I didn’t see it coming. I wasn’t prepared. Then again, no one could ever be ready for such a life-altering circumstance.
Ensuring that you find the right doctor is absolutely the most critical decision you can make in your fight against epilepsy.
Right out the gate, I found myself switching doctors for their lack of communication skills, empathy, and understanding. These traits are very helpful and appreciated, especially when you haven’t the foggiest idea of what your chronic illness is all about and where to go from that point.
Don’t be afraid to switch doctors if your first appointment doesn’t meet your standards. It’s critical that you find a doctor who treats you with respect, makes you feel comfortable, listens to you, explains medical information in a way that you can understand, and gives you a chance to ask questions. If something feels off, trust your instincts and keep looking.
Though you may be antsy and eager to get the ball rolling on understanding all that you can about your chronic illness, and find the right method in which to gain control of your epilepsy, there are many facets that must be taken into consideration when choosing a doctor.
What to Consider When Choosing a Doctor
- Make sure that your doctor is covered by your insurance
- Get referrals – Start by reviewing the referral list that your primary care doctor provided. You can add to this list by asking family, friends, and other healthcare providers for recommendations.
- Take the time to research the doctors’ credentials and experience. (Healthgrades gives you the full picture of a doctor’s qualifications, including clinical experience, hospital quality measures, and patient feedback) As you narrow down your list, call each doctor’s office and ask for a consult appointment to meet and interview them.
- Research the quality of the hospital – Your doctor’s hospital is your hospital. It’s for this reason, take into consideration the quality of care at the hospital where the doctor can treat patients. Hospital quality should matter greatly to you because patients at top-rated hospitals have fewer complications and better survival rates. Even more so, think about whether the hospital’s location is important to you. If you need to go to the hospital for tests or treatment, you want the location to encourage, rather than discourage timely care.
- Communication style – Choose a doctor that you are comfortable talking to and who supports your needs. When you first meet the doctor, ask a question and notice how they respond. Do they welcome your questions and answer them in ways that you can easily understand? Find a doctor who takes a positive interest in getting to know you, who will consider your treatment preferences, and who will show respect for your decision-making process.
- Patient satisfaction surveys matter – Taking the time to read what other people have to say about a doctor can shed light into how a doctor practices medicine, as well as how their medical practice is done. Patient satisfaction surveys typically ask people about their experience with scheduling appointments, wait times, office environment, and office staff friendliness. You can learn about how well patients trust the doctor, how much time they spend with their patients, and how well they answer questions. It’s definitely worth having a look at if you’re looking for the right doctor for you!
- Know what your insurance will cover – Your insurance coverage is a practical matter. To receive the most insurance benefits and pay the least out-of-pocket for your care, you might need to choose a doctor who participates in your plan. You should still consider credentials, experience, outcomes, and hospital quality as you choose a doctor from your plan.
Asking family, friends and even individuals within online epilepsy support groups to help in your decision of selecting the right doctor is always a great idea. As always, you can get referrals from your primary care doctor or the hospital referral center.
Remember, be calm, breathe easy, and ease into this decision with absolute faith. If the first doctor doesn’t seem to be the right match for your journey, meet with a different doctor.
On this journey to overcome epilepsy, you deserve the best doctor and when you have found them, you will undoubtedly have discovered an amazing companion in your battle against epilepsy.