By: Dr. Jill Murphy, Physical Therapist, Licensed Athletic Trainer
Patients ask me all the time for suggestions on what provider or physician to see, whether in primary care or internal medicine, OB-GYN, or specialists in orthopedics, neurology, neurosurgery, pain management, physiatrists (physical medicine & rehabilitation specialists or PM&R’s), and more. We are happy to give these suggestions, whether it is for a quality local physician, out of town specialist, or even for other ancillary providers, such as counsellors, pscyhiatrists, psychologists, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and sometimes even for physical therapy when we do not have the necessary specialty care available. Not to say that we know every provider, we only give advice to the extent we have it. But the beauty of being an independent physical therapy practice is that we only refer patients to physicians who have impressed us with their high level of care and patient satisfaction. So what are some other ways to help you find the best provider for you?
Word of mouth referrals from friends, family, and co-workers are definitely helpful. Now sometimes, the person who really likes a certain provider has completely the opposite personality as you, or they have a completely different problem. Sometimes these referrals go south, because sometimes you don’t see a providers “true colors” until difficulties arise or your case becomes too complex. Also try review websites like Healthgrades. Read through multiple pages of reviews, not just the first. Some providers and patients can game the system a bit, but generally these reviews and especially patients’ comments are spot on. Now, every provider will probably have a negative review or two- as it is impossible to please everyone or guarantee a perfect result to every complicated case. These reviews should be able to give you a good feel for the provider.
Next, you can look at internal provider reviews. These reviews are found on the providers or providers’ employer like a hospital system’s website. Be wary of these ratings and reviews, as many times negative reviews are not counted or posted, so definitely take this data with a grain of salt. Other sites like Facebook, Google, Bing, and others often have low review numbers, so again, they can be easily skewed. Take these reviews as well with a grain of salt.
Medicare now has some physician reviews on-line as well. Most of these numbers are quality scores. Now, before you believe it’s the Bible of all reviews, realize that quality is dictated frequently by mundane and unimportant things that may not apply to you at all like fall data, or percent of patients vaccinated. But it may contain data that is useful for comparison sake, like the number of re-admissions within 30 days of procedure, mortality rates, complication rates, etc; so it’s worth a look. The best data to gather is how many cases do they see or operate on just like yours per month or per year. This will really tell you if they are a good fit for your particular needs.
Remember to also look at the providers’ bio and web pages. Do they treat your precise specialty and do they have a special interest in your medical problem? Have they done lots of cases like yours? What is their complication rate? Try to get a feel also if their personality is well-liked, are they approachable, and do they take their time to answer patients' questions. Some providers do such a great job at this they run 1-2 hours behind schedule routinely. Would this work for you if it was otherwise the right provider? Only you can decide.
Finally, meet the provider. Get a consultation appointment. Gather your paperwork and write down your questions so the visit is valuable. You can always decide after this appointment whether or not this provider is for you. Bring along a female spouse, family member, or friend, because no joking, women have an outstanding ability to catch more non-verbal cues, details of conversations including both tone and message, and female intuition in sizing up people is oh so reliable and relevant!
Never feel guilty if you decide a physician or provider is not for you. They will not care if you seek another provider that better matches your medical needs or personality if they are a good provider! He or she will also desire for you to be comfortable and confident with the provider that may be in charge of your healthcare for years or just to complete one surgical procedure. Many will not even know you went somewhere else, as many patients are lost to follow-up. If you know a provider is not the best, but decide to proceed anyway due to needing a procedure completed quickly, recognize the risk you are taking, and think twice whether it is worth it. It may turn out just fine, or it may turn out poorly.
At MotionWorks Physical Therapy, we love to try to match patients to the best physician, both technically and personally. These top quality providers are hard to find, but once we find them, we definitely entrust our patients to their care. When you call our clinic, we also try to match you to the best provider for your particular injury or issue, because this will improve your care. If you have a question or need some advice regarding a consult or which physician to choose, we are happy to assist in any way that we can. Simply email Jill@motionworkspt.com, and we will try our best to help guide you in your decision-making process. If you are ever unhappy with the care you receive at MotionWorks Physical Therapy, be sure to let us know! We run our clinic with the goal of making continuous improvements to fulfill our mission of providing our patients the best quality physical therapy care, so suggestions for improvement all always appreciated. Contact our Quality Committee via email: our owner, Dr. Jill Murphy, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us at 920-215-2050, or you can even privately message us on our Facebook page.