shutterstock_96958376Finding the right physician is not always as simple as just going to the doctor’s office that is nearest to your home or office. The right physician is someone who you trust and want to work with to improve your overall health. With this in mind, many patients today are choosing to forego the traditional doctor’s office in favor of concierge medicine because it can offer more personalized and comprehensive care. If you have heard about concierge doctors and want to know how you can find the right one for you, here are some tips to aid in your search.

Step 1: Start with a Search

The quickest way to determine how many private physicians are in your area, and their proximity to your home, is to do a quick search using the official directory of private physicians. You can perform the search online, but often this type of search will only return a list of potential private doctor’s offices without the ability to differentiate between them to determine which ones will provide the services you need, so this should only be a starting point for your private physician search.

Step 2: Ask for a Referral

If you know someone who belongs to a concierge medicine practice, or you have friends or family members who have utilized the services of local private doctors, consider asking them for referrals. Many friends and family members will probably be happy to discuss the advantages that a private physician has over more traditional doctors’ offices, and can help you find a physician who is right for you. You can also ask your current doctor for a recommendation if you don’t feel like you are getting the service you want from your current doctor, and you feel comfortable doing so.

Step 3: Meet with Each Doctor

Once you have a list of potential private physicians in your area, schedule a time to meet with each one. Talk about the services they offer, the benefits of paying the additional fees that generally come with concierge medicine, and what you can expect as a patient in their practice. During this time consider factors like how much you trust the doctor and how well you get along with them. Since you will likely be spending more time with a private doctor that you spend with a traditional physician, you want to make sure it’s someone you can trust.

When you meet with each doctor, be sure to take into account additional factors such as the office hours and availability, the location (and whether or not it’s convenient for you), and the friendliness and attentiveness of the support staff.

Step 4: Compare Costs and Fees

Most concierge medicine practices will work with your insurance to cover some costs, but will also charge additional fees that cover things like basic preventive care, tests and lab work, and annual physicals. Depending on how the concierge medicine practice operates, these costs may be paid monthly, quarterly, or annually, and should be something you discuss with the doctor before you sign up. You want to be fully aware of what costs are involved and what they cover so you can choose a concierge medicine practice that fits your budget and your expectations.

It’s also a good idea to check with your insurance provider to make sure that the doctors you are considering would be covered under your policy. You may be able to use money from a flex spending or health savings account to cover some of the out-of-pocket costs, but it’s best to know this in advance before you commit to join any specific practice.

Step 5: Choose Your Physician

If you have taken the time to research and compare the options you have for private doctors, met with each one, and learned about the different benefits and cost structures available at each office, the final step is to choose the doctor that feels right for you. It’s a personal decision, and one that can have long-term implications, so it’s important to weigh out all the different decision factors before you decide on which practice to join.