Friday, March 19, 2010

Choose your eye doctor the best way. Do your homework!

There is no substitute for homework. By this, I mean that if you want to find a good eye doctor, dentist, podiatrist, physician, chiropractor, psychologist, hygienist, physical therapist or any health care professional you have to do research. This does not mean that you cannot trust the recommendation of your friends, family and colleagues. A personal recommendation is one of the best ways to find a health care professional. I would make sure that the person referring you has personal experience of the specific health care professional that you are being referred to. If the health care professional has a web site, you should check that out. Verify the education and experience of the doctor. Make sure that the description of what is available matches what you are looking for. In general, the more experience that a doctor has the greater the possibility that you will have a positive outcome. Doctors that have been in practice for a long time generally are successful because they satisfy their patients needs. This is not always the case, but in general it is true. Another good indication is a referral from another doctor. If lots of health care professionals use a particular doctor the chances are excellent that you will be well taken care of. It is also possible to go to the "Department of Consumer Affairs" in your local state and find if there are any complaints against the doctor. In addition, you can visit a site like "Yelp" and look at the reviews that are listed for the particular professional. You can also check reviews on "Google" and other sources.

A word about reviews: There are very few doctors that have perfect reviews. This is because doctors are people and they deal with events in the real world. The real world is not perfect, although we all want it to be. If the majority of reviews that an individual doctor has are positive, I feel that it can be assumed that the doctor is satisfying most of his patients. This will apply, especially, if there are mostly positive reviews more recently and only a few negative reviews from quite a ways back. In addition, readers have to realize that the negativity of the review may pertain to the staff and not the doctor. The doctor may be terrific but if the staff is not well trained in patient care and satisfaction, this will still not bode well for the doctor. A negative review based upon staff issues is just as valid as any other negative review. The first impression a patient has regarding a particular office is usually the telephone contact. Many things can have a negative impact upon a patient's impression: How long did it take for the receptionist to pick up the phone? Was the patient immediately put on hold and not gotten back to in a reasonable amount of time? Was the person representing the doctor friendly and helpful? Once in the office for the appointment, was the patient attended to in a timely manner? How long did the patient have to wait until being seen by the doctor? What kind of condition was the office in? Were the magazines up to date? Were the bathrooms clean? All of these questions can have a dramatic effect on a patient's impression of a particular doctor's office AND THE PATIENT HAS NOT EVEN SEEN THE DOCTOR YET!

What about the doctor? Was the doctor friendly? Did the doctor answer the patient's questions? Were the patient's reasons for being there addressed? Were follow up visits scheduled when necessary? Basically, did the patient get the overall impression that the doctor and staff were happy that the patient had come to them for professional services?

If the overall impression is negative, the office probably does deserve a negative review. I also feel that it is important for doctors to poll their patients to make sure that the overall impression of patients is
positive. Doctors want their patients to be satisfied. A problem occurs when feedback is not monitored by the doctor and staff. I think the most valuable thing that a patient can do for an office, if they have a negative experience, is to let the doctor know. It is much better for the doctor to know about the problem so the problem can be addressed and solved rather than the patient just leaving and going to another office and telling everyone about their negative experience. If after offering constructive criticism the patient still feels that their concerns are not being addressed, it is definitely time to find another doctor.

So, the bottom line is: 1. do your homework 2. be open minded 3. if you are not satisfied, let the doctor know 4. If you are happy with the services of the doctor and staff, tell others so they too can have a positive experience 5. Offer your own review of the office

Good luck with your professional relationships. If you have any questions or comments, please contact me through my listed email on the blog.

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