The Upstate SC

VOL11ISS1 2015

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THE ORIGINAL RELOCATION GUIDE — UPSTATE SC | VOLUME 11 — ISSUE 1 74 CHOOSING A PHYSICIAN Relocating? It seems like your moving prior- ity list gets revamped every other day. Of course there's fnding employment. In fact, that's usually the reason for the move, but what about those other bullet points on the master plan? There's a new home to consider, a new school system for the kids, and then comes healthcare. Proper quality healthcare for your family is always a top priority of life, but fnding that new doctor in a new environment is not as easy as it once was. Seeking to fnd a traditional solo-practitioner in a new town is almost a thing of the past. Many physi- cians are joining with large medical practices that offer extras like extended walk-in hours and online patient portals where appointments can be made, prescription reflls requested and test results re- trieved with a click of the mouse. Others are giving up self-employment altogether and are going to work for larger hospital systems. Where do you even start? If your move to the new town involves a large employer; more than likely someone from HR will sit you down, hand you a book of 'faceless' physicians, and ask you to pick one. (Not exactly the way I see choosing the person I'm hand- ing my personal well-being over to for the next de- cade). Your primary care doctor is your medical 'home base.' It's the doctor you visit for most medical issues, from wellness visits and routine screenings, to non- emergency needs like earaches and sore throats. Your primary care doctor will also be the person who refers you to see a specialist. You'll want to select someone you feel comfortable having honest conversations with, someone with expertise in the areas that meet your health needs, and someone who is hopefully in-net- work for your health insurance plan. How can you cut through the red tape to fnd a phy- sician that is both qualifed and compatible with your family's needs and also one who extremely qualifed? It will take a little homework, a little footwork, and at least a little paperwork! The frst part is a no-brainer. You'll most likely have to start with your insurance provider. Most people can- not afford a primary care physician as 'private pay,' so visit your carrier's website or call to conduct a search for managed care in-network doctors who specialize in what you need. More than likely, you'll end up with a bountiful list of participating doctors that you should be able to narrow down frst by location, by study background, and eventually by skill. Finding the Right Physician for You BY STUART JAMES Now that you have a place to start and a working list of doctors who participate in your health plan, it's time to refne the search again. Consider their location as well as their hospital affliations. Look for good quality measures on individual physicians like the National Committee on Quality Assurance accreditation and whether doctors meet criteria for care of specifc conditions. Another bench- mark is the Healthcare Effectiveness Data Information Set, which focuses on adherence to clinical guidelines. Is your doctor board certifed in a specialty like internal or family medicine? You may also want to check whether the physician is certifed in his or her subspecialty, like treat- ing heart disease or arthritis. You can check on certifca- tion status with the American Board of Medical Special- ties, (www.abms.org), and at Web sites like Docfnder (docboard.org). Keep in mind there are several different types of doctors that will be identifed as primary care physicians. Family practice physicians, for instance, are able to treat patients of all ages, from newborns to the elderly. They are general- ists who can treat a wide variety of conditions, and often can also treat ailments you'd normally see a specialist for, like sports injuries or some women's health needs. Internal medicine physicians typically treat adults and specialize in

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