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Tips for Finding a Specialist

Updated: Jun 23, 2023

Finding the right doctor can be tricky. Not all specialists are the same, and they cover a wide range of conditions. If you are like me, you have a Primary Care Physician, a Dermatologist, a Rheumatologist, an Allergist, a Gynecologist, Ophthalmologist, and a Nephrologist. That's a lot to keep track of.

If you are on the hunt for a new specialist, here are the tips I recommend;

  1. Research. Find the websites of all the hospitals or clinics in your area. These websites have physician profiles that tell you what their interests or specialties are. Take Rheumatology, for example. I am looking for a doctor that specializes in Psoriatic Arthritis. When I read the profiles or do a keyword search, I read their interest areas and look for Psoriatic Arthritis or something similar.

  2. Ask other doctors. If you have a specialist you like, ask them if they recommend any specialists in that area and their experience with them. You will be surprised how small a world it is in each field.

  3. Ask friends, family, and coworkers. Someone you know might have a fantastic doctor they can refer you to. I have even seen people post on the NextDoor app for recommendations.

  4. Don't assume you will like the first one you find. I spent several years trying new rheumatologists before I found the one I wanted. Some of them will recommend treatment paths that don't mix with your lifestyle or will dismiss your condition or symptoms. That is an indicator that they are not the right doctor for you.

  5. Test their response time. After seeing a new physician for the first time, please send a message or call their office with questions to see how long it takes them to respond. In my experience, one who commits to providing exemplary care and connecting with their patients will take the time to respond to you in 24-48 hours. Pro Tip: Using an Electronic Health System to message your doctor can save you a trip to the doctor's office and a copay.

  6. Researchers are not always the best choice. The more credentialed, more well-known, or research-focused physicians are great to pick the brain of but usually have longer wait times and are harder to get into. I had seen top Dermatologists in the field, and 20 years ago, when Psoriasis was not well known, that was key to me getting treatments, but now that it is a well-known disease with treatment options, I would rather have a doctor that can get me in quickly and keeps up with the treatment options than someone whose primary focus is research.

  7. Check to see if the office also has Physician Assistants. I love having the option to see my Dermatologist or the Physician Assistant. I have been pleasantly surprised with the depth of knowledge my PA has and how integrated into the Psoriasis treatment world, she is. This can be especially helpful when you have to go in for regular injections, as you have two schedules to leverage.

  8. A bonus for any specialist office is if they have a specialty medication coordinator. Specialty medications like biologics have tricky refill processes, annual prior authorizations, and steep bills without the right copay programs. Having a coordinator in the doctor's office that helps you manage this process is amazing. That staff member saved me hours and hours of stress when I was on Stelara.

I hope these tips help. If you need help looking for a doctor or researching in your area, I am happy to help get you started.

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