Moving to a new home involves many different activities. One of the most important tasks it to find medical care for your family. It can seem intimidating to be in a new area where you don’t know anyone, but choosing a new doctor or dentist is important for everyone’s health. Some advance preparation can make the process easier.
Decide What You Need
Before you leave your present home, decide what you will need in terms of medical care in your new location. The age of your children may make a difference in whether you want a family practice doctor, a pediatrician or both.
If you are older, you might want an internist rather than a family practitioner. If everyone in the family is generally healthy, that’s a very different scenario than if one or more have chronic conditions or serious medical issues. Obtain copies of your medical records from your current doctors and dentists, including a list of medications your family members are currently taking.
It’s also a good idea to note the contact information for your various medical providers so the new doctor can contact them for more information if necessary.
Review Your Insurance
Many insurance policies have assigned networks of medical and dental providers. That doesn’t mean you can’t go out of network, such as a dentist in Rockford, although it may cost more if you do.
Ask the insurance company for a list of approved providers in the new area. The insurance company may also be able to provide you with information about the providers in whom you are interested.
For example, you might want to know whether a family practice doctor you’re considering also provides prenatal care and delivers babies. The insurance company may also be able to tell you what the doctors’ hospital affiliations are.
Do Some Scouting to Find Medical Care
If you can, scout out the new area before you actually move. If that’s not practical, do it as soon as possible. Visit the hospitals in the area. Determine where the doctors in your network are located in relation to your new home.
Most hospitals and many individual dentists, doctors or medical groups have websites. You may be able to get a sense of the physical surroundings, office layouts and other issues such as a doctor’s training, experience and board certifications.
Some hospitals actually offer assistance in choosing a new medical provider. The local medical and dental societies may also be resources.
Look for Feedback
Once you’ve confirmed that a doctor has the necessary training, experience and other qualifications, the questions of competence and personality come to the fore. Websites may offer patient reviews, but be cautious here.
If all of the reviews are glowing, it could mean they are vetted before posting. No medical professional will have universally perfect reviews and any professional that has inadvertently caused a medically-induced injury or provided lax care will be unlikely to hold their hands up and admit their faults. Medical professionals deserve to be vetted in great detail. Reviews are very useful as a guide, but it’s critical to get real, honest feedback from local people.
Ask your new neighbors or the people at your new job about local medical providers. If you’re lucky enough to have neighbors who work in the medical field, ask for their opinion. Pay close attention not only to what they say but how they say it.
Medical communities are tightly knit and most people won’t actually bad-mouth another professional. However they may hesitate or lay emphasis on certain words or phrases that can give you a clue.
Finding good medical and dental care will take some time. At a minimum, identify an urgent care center near your home for minor issues until you can become established in a new permanent medical home. If things don’t work out with your new doctor—and sometimes they don’t, for whatever reason—you will probably have other options.