Choosing the Right Health Care Provider

December 21, 2013 Updated: December 22, 2013

Finding the right health care professional is not an easy task. There are a number of different options, and you have to determine who is the right fit for you.

As a cosmetic and implant dentist in Midtown Manhattan, I have this discussion with my own patients all the time, and I am always curious to discover, first, how patients found me, and second, how they choose their other health care professionals.

I have found that patients who are happiest with their health care providers have used similar criteria and methods to find quality providers.

Ask Trusted Sources for Referrals

A great initial step in the process of seeking a health care professional is asking someone you trust to share his or her experience and provide you with a referral.

Explore the recommended provider’s online presence to see if you are in alignment with what the provider is offering. Then contact the recommended practice and speak to their team to determine how professional and well-organized the practice is.

Do Your Own Research

Research the provider’s education and advanced training. You want to make sure your provider is truly committed to excellence in his or her field of expertise. For example, if seeking a cosmetic dentist, a patient should look for before and after photos, patient testimonials and reviews, authored articles, and continuing education courses the dentist has taken. You may even want to talk to some current patients.

Check for Advanced Methods and Philosophies

Your provider should have a commitment to the field and be capable of performing the most advanced and least-invasive treatments.

For example, in dentistry, patients should seek providers with digital X-rays because they reduce radiation exposure by 75–80 percent over conventional film. Also, a dentist capable of taking 3D images can plan implant cases with minimally invasive surgery and better diagnose certain health conditions.

Dental providers who use CAD and CAM (computer aided design and computer aided manufacturing) can provide all ceramic crowns and veneers in a single visit to minimize trips to the office and time off work.

Schedule a Complimentary Consultation

The most important factor is that you feel comfortable with your health care provider.

The happiest patients often meet their provider through a complimentary consultation. This allows patients to explore the office, location, staff, and provider with a very open and honest view. This consultation also provides the opportunity to determine if there is a mutual fit between patient and provider, with regards to personality, treatment philosophies, and goals.

The consultation also provides an opportunity to discuss your particular situation, goals, previous experiences (good and bad), and fears. The ultimate goal is to have a healthy relationship based on honesty and communication.

Look for a Personalized Approach

Because financial models and insurance companies are challenging a truly personalized health care approach, I have more and more patients tell me that they have difficulty finding providers who take time to look them in the eye and talk to them like a person, rather than a number.

Make sure you are the priority. Further, make sure the provider is accessible and available to discuss concerns and questions in more detail by phone or email.

Communication Is Key

A major transition in my career came when I was able to have open and honest conversations with my patients. I invite them to bring up concerns, disagreements, confusing points, or anything on their minds.

Over time, this fosters a relationship built on communication and trust, and this leads to the ultimate patient-provider relationship where you work together as a team toward a unified vision and goal.

Using the suggested methods for seeking a health care professional and thoroughly evaluating whether a particular provider is a good match for you will often lead to a lasting, positive, and fulfilling long-term relationship.

Dr. Frank Orlando maintains a private dental office at Gallery57 Dental in Midtown Manhattan. He focuses on comprehensive cosmetic and implant dentistry with specific emphasis on oral systemic health. He is a founding member of the American Academy of Oral Systemic Health and a fellow in the Academy of General Dentistry and International Congress of Oral Implantologists.