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The Step-by-Step Guide to Finding the Right Doctor in New York City

Choosing the right primary care doctor is a vital decision.

If you or a loved one are ill, a good physician can make all the difference in speeding your recovery and easing your stress.

Choosing a doctor is an important long-term commitment; you need time to build a trusting, long-standing relationship so that when your health is on the line, you can believe in her opinions and have faith in her recommendations.

But finding the right doctor in a busy city like New York can feel impossible.

There are so many, first of all, where do you even begin? Add in parameters like insurance and location, and the search gets even more complex.

You need to strike an optimal balance between what you hope to find (an experienced and knowledgeable physician who offers the most comprehensive services), and what you can really afford.

Choosing the right primary care doctor is a vital decision.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, many more people can now reap the benefits of health insurance to cover their expenses. But even if you’re insured, getting an appointment at short notice in Manhattan can be absurdly difficult unless you are a regular patient.

As hard as it may sound, there are more than just a few things you can do to ease the process of finding a new primary care doctor in New York City. To help you out, we’ve compiled this step-by-step guide to finding not just a doctor, but the right doctor who meets your needs and health goals.

1. Know what you really want

The first step necessary to save a lot of time and stress during the searching phase is to know precisely what type of healthcare practitioner you’re looking for.
If you have special medical needs such as rheumatology problems or celiac disease, you may want to search for a physician who has a specialty degree in that field. If you suffer from chronic conditions such as diabetes or atrial fibrillation, an internist with additional training in cardiology will be helpful to you to avoid wasting money and time on referrals. If you’re an active weekend warrior, a sports medicine physician can quickly take care of you in the case of a sport-specific injury.

Some women may want to choose a gynecologist as their regular physician to build a more robust relationship, especially if they have family history of gynecological concerns. If you are an international patient, you may wish to talk with a doctor who understands your cultural or religious needs. And LGBTQ patients might want to find a physician that understands the specific needs and culture of their community.
You can narrow down your results by searching for doctors by specialty. As you can tell, taking stock of your own family history and current lifestyle can be quite helpful in determining what type of doctor you should be looking for.

2. Ask around to gather some names

New York is an incredibly busy city with lots of choices for everything, doctors and hospitals included. The old-fashioned method of asking around for opinions from people you trust is still one of the most viable ways to collect information and decent recommendations. When asking questions about a potential candidate, however, try not to be intrusive. Respecting the privacy of others will go a long way in helping you get the information you need. Here is an example of how you could ask the right questions to a friend or relative:

Hi Jane,

I hope this email finds you well. How’s the vacation with your kids? I’d love to invite you and your kids to my country house this summer. I know that having you over would really help Mike, who’s feeling so low right now. He was recently diagnosed with diabetes. I wanted him to see a diabetologist to get a second opinion on treatment, but it’s been really hard to find one who’s readily available here in NY. Finding the right doctor is so difficult nowadays, especially with insurance being complicated and money being tight with the purchase of the summer house. I remember you had a diabetologist you trusted to treat your husband’s mother. Would you recommend him for Mike? If yes, I’d love to get his contact information from you. Let me know if you can spend some time with us later this month. I’ll bake that special cake that Tim loves so much! Warmest wishes, Elizabeth

Have you done your research on specialties, asked around to friends and family, and gotten the name of a few reliable and affordable candidates? You can now start checking into background and reputation to see if he or she meets your needs. See below for more information on this crucial step! Alternatively, if word of mouth didn’t provide you with good prospects, it’s time for step three: looking on one of many consumer-friendly sites for further information.

3. STEP THREE

Check the Web

Our society is rapidly evolving towards full digitalization, and technology is changing the face of healthcare. The Internet now offers us the convenience of finding in a few seconds what used to require hours of searching by conventional means. If asking around for a good health practitioner didn’t get you the results you expected, or if you simply lack the time or will to bother people around you, you still have plenty of choices. As of 2013, 72% percent of internet users searched for all kinds of health information online, including finding a new doctor. So don’t be shy! Below you will find a short recap of the top three sites of this type that we found, which will help you create a list of some likely candidates.

A. Zocdoc.com

The site has a lot of information such as doctors’ working hours, insurance plans accepted, and even reviews from other patients.

B. Modern MD Urgent care

ModernMD Urgent Care is a modern and innovative service that provides patients in the New York area with first-class medical care. If you need urgent medical care, this website gives you access to immediate treatment 24/7 at a very affordable price. It’s a great way to test a new doctor!

C. Mount Sinai

Mount Sinai’s site has a relatively large database of doctors and hospitals in the New York City and metropolitan area.

You can find useful filter options to narrow down your search to just what you’re looking for, such as specialty, ZIP code, or insurance type.

4. STEP FOUR

Narrow down your list to the right candidate

If you’re a busy and relatively healthy New Yorker, all you need is a go-to doctor that you can visit at anytime when you have a cold. If you suffer from a critical or complex condition that requires constant treatment, a two-hour drive each way is still worth the time if you know that your doctor is giving you the best care possible. As your mileage may vary, choosing the right candidate among many requires you to go beyond some rudimentary details such as location and specialization. Let’s look at some additional criteria that will be useful in further defining what you’re expecting from your primary care physician.

How much can you afford to spend ?

Your health is paramount, but your household economy is important as well. Even if you have an insurance plan, proper healthcare can be expensive, so you should first consider your family budget before choosing the optimal doctor. Most insurers’ directories or websites allow you to search for physicians available in your network, but be sure to double-check and call their office to verify if the plan is still active – many doctors often drop plans without notice.

Also, take the time to account for every monetary detail while considering a doctor. Additional charges such as lab fees, annual charges, and hospital fees can quickly add up, especially when you’re considering care that is out-of-network versus in-network. And don’t forget that if your insurance plan has a high deductible, you may need to pay out of your pocket until you meet it.

Accessibility and availability

Your health is paramount, but your household economy is important as well. Even if you have an insurance plan, proper healthcare can be expensive, so you should first consider your family budget before choosing the optimal doctor. Most insurers’ directories or websites allow you to search for physicians available in your network, but be sure to double-check and call their office to verify if the plan is still active – many doctors often drop plans without notice.

Also, take the time to account for every monetary detail while considering a doctor. Additional charges such as lab fees, annual charges, and hospital fees can quickly add up, especially when you’re considering care that is out-of-network versus in-network. And don’t forget that if your insurance plan has a high deductible, you may need to pay out of your pocket until you meet it.

What have others thought of their experience with this provider? Check patients reviews for specific details

Would you ever go to a restaurant or hire a carpenter to fix your porch without first reading a review? A bad doctor is worse than having no doctor – you need to trust this person’s judgment with your health. Some questions to consider:

  1. How long do patients need to wait in the waiting room?
  2. Did patients have difficulty scheduling appointments or reaching the doctor when they really needed to?
  3. What about empathy is it present? Do patients feel heard? Discussing health conditions can some times be difficult, so looking for evidence of kindness is important!
  4. Is the clinic staff gentle and the office full of amenities that may ease the stress of waiting?
  5. Is the provider punctual when an important appointment is scheduled?

Knowing what other patients thought of the services provided is the best form of “quality assurance” you may find. As odd as it may sound, you can now read many physicians’ reviews on websites such as Yelp:

All you have to do is search for the specific doctor and the location, and you will get reviews of that doctor. You can also select the category you’re looking for (such as Family Practice or Cardiologist) and the location to get a full list.
Reality may still not meet your expectations, but knowing something about your healthcare provider beforehand is definitely better than knowing nothing.

CONCLUSION

Not every physician is equally skilled, and not every one of them can provide you with what you need. Finding the one who is going to be the perfect match for you in the long-term can be hard, and a lot of work up-front. Going back to the drawing board over and over again to find a new provider with each new healthcare need can be much worse, though.
Finding a doctor you truly feel you can trust can be one of the most important decisions in your life. So remember, doing the work beforehand could result in outsized dividends down the road. Don’t hurry: take your time to do your research as carefully as possible until you find the one you feel comfortable with. Your future self will thank you.

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