News and Information from the Health and Wellness Division of Blindness Support Services - Riverside, California

Selecting a Health Care Provider

by Rosslyn Byous, P.A., DPH

The decision that can save your life:  How to choose a health care provider.

Consumers spend a great deal of time and effort in selecting everything from a home to buying a car.  However, most consumers don't even begin to know how to apply those same skills to looking for a health care professional.

When selecting a health care provider, the consumer/patient should focus on several key areas:  how do they define "quality care"; access to their provider; and the type of health insurance plan they have.  According to the Agency for Health Research and Quality (AHRQ), quality health care means "doing the right things, at the right time, in the right way, for the right persons, and having the best results".  

Prior to selecting a provider, the patient should consider the following questions:

Health Plan Questions

  1. Is my current provider covered by the health insurance plan I am interested in purchasing?

  2. Does the plan cover special services, such as oxygen, specialist referrals, etc.?

  3. Does the plan provide the services where and when I need them?

Provider Questions

  1. Does the academic and clinical education meet my standards?

  2. Are they well-versed and committed to preventative medicine, e.g., weight management, smoking cessation, etc.?

  3. Does the provider have hospital privileges at the4 hospital I would want to be admitted to if I ever need to be hospitalized?

  4. Does the provider speak to me in a way that I can understand all of my treatment plans and follow-up options?

  5. Does the provider address my concerns?

  6. Does the provider talk to me and my family when they are present?

  7. Does the provider and their staff treat me and all of their patients with dignity and respect?

  8. When was the last time my provider actually touched me?

  9. Does the provider know how to address the needs of the visually impaired?

If the health care provider does not meet your minimum standards, then don't feel obligated to stay with them - choose a new one.  Word of mouth is still one of the best referral methods available.

Dr. Rosslynn Byous is from Western University of Health Science in Pomona.  She is a physician's assistant and teaches classes at Blindness Support Services in Riverside.

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