Choosing the Right Pediatrician: 29 Questions to Ask

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Finding the RIGHT pediatrician is one of the most important decisions you’ll have to make.  They will become your partner in raising a healthy child – managing your worries and concerns, offering meaningful advice and if you’re truly lucky, you will look at them as an extension of your family.

Roll back almost 5 years, I was about to give birth to my first. I asked a local parent-friend and she recommended a pediatrician in Park Slope who she was satisfied with. I was working FT, didn’t have the time to research, and did not necessarily understand the significance of the decision that I was (frivolously) making. I ended up giving birth to my daughter at Methodist Hospital, and immediately connected to the pediatrician on staff. He held my little girl like she was his own, with an aura of such warmth and compassion that could not be compared.  It was instant, I knew he had to be our doctor! That is how we met Dr. Cao and the amazing staff at SSP.

I was very, very lucky that he was the pediatrician on staff that day and I was able to make the right decision after almost making a very hasty one.  For those of us who understand the importance of finding the right pediatrician and actually doing the research, we’ve put together a list of questions that you should consider asking both the doctor and yourself:

 

Logistics:

– What happens during a well visit?

– How do I bring my sick child to the doctor? Do I need an appointment or can I just walk in?

– What is the average wait time?

– How many doctors are in the practice?

– Will I see the same doctor or do I see whoever is available?

What are the business hours?

– How does the office handle emergencies during business hours and after business hours?

– Is the practice conveniently located, easy to get to?

 

Medical:

– Try to find out the doctor’s approach to practicing medicine. Is it evidence based? For example, you can ask questions about use of antibiotics.

– Ask if the doctors are members of the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics). This is also a good indication of their practice philosophy.

– Ask about their sleep training philosophy

– Ask about immunization policies

– Ask to meet the nurses who will care for your baby before and after the visit with the doctor

– Ask what tests (if any) are done at the office

– If you’re expecting, ask about what vaccines the adults who will care for your baby should receive.

Does the pediatrician or pediatricians have any specialty or focus (important to ask if your kid has any type of special needs)?

 

Insurance:

– Make sure the doctor you choose as your Primary Care Physician is in network with your plan. Call your insurance to get an updated status of the doctor’s participation.

– Does your partner have different insurance than you? Ask to talk to a billing specialist for advice.

– Ask what to expect in terms of copays, coinsurance and deductible (please, send the office your insurance information ahead of time)

– Ask what happens to the claims for the first visits while the baby is still not officially under the policy.

– Ask how you will be billed for your responsibilities and how you can pay.

 

A Good Fit (talk about Culture):

It’s important to find out if the practice you are visiting and the doctor you are meeting are a good fit for your family. One way to understand this is to evaluate their company culture.

– Was everyone nice, humble, helpful, attentive, detailed oriented?

– Did you feel ‘at home’ while experiencing the practice?

– Did you leave the meet and greet feeling excited?  

– Did you feel like you “connected” with the staff?

– Have you noticed how the front desk team talks to patients?

– Test them on every channel: call the office and pay attention to how they speak. Email them and see how fast they reply. Reach out on social media and check if they respond and how (Please, remember that as per HIPAA medical information can’t be discussed on social media)

– Ask if the practice has established Core Values (most people will probably stare blankly for a few seconds). Establishing core values is the first step for a business to create and promote a company culture that turns a ‘cold business machine’ into a more human-like team that has your interest and happiness in sight at all times.

How is the practice involved in their community? How do they give back?

 

To summarize, please don’t make the same mistake I almost did…do your research.  Try to find other neighbors and friends who are patients of the practice you are interested in.  See what they have to say. Ask all of the questions in the world – after all, you are trusting this person with your child’s health.  What could be more important than that? 🙂

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