Let’s face it: Finding a doctor who is knowledgeable about chronic conditions like fibromyalgia and Lyme disease with a good bedside manner and the heart of a healer is a little bit like trying to find toilet paper amid the coronavirus pandemic. I learned this early on in my illness as I bounced from doctor to doctor to doctor, trying to find one who actually cared enough to dig into my case and figure out what was wrong with me.
Because I’ve had so many negative experiences with physicians, I’ve developed a process over the years that helps to weed out many of the doctors we’d rather avoid. You know the ones I’m talking about, right?
The ones who don’t listen or talk over you.
The ones who think they know everything about our conditions, but actually know very little.
The ones who are rude, disrespectful and insinuate (or blatantly say), “Oh, you just must be depressed” or “Oh, it’s just stress” or “Oh, that’s just a normal part of getting older” or “Oh, you just need to lose a little weight.”
In my latest video, I’m sharing the steps I take to find quality medical providers. Below, I’ve included an abbreviated version of the steps in written form plus you’ll find all of the links that I mentioned in the video.
Note: In the video and below, I’ve focused on how to find a good fibromyalgia or Lyme doctor since that’s what I write about here on FedUpwithFatigue.com, but I also use these steps to find other specialists as well.
Step 1: Compile a list of potential doctors
The best sources for compiling your list of potential doctors
- Local in-person support groups – Google [your condition name] + support group + [your city and/or state name]. Meetup.com is another good source to check for in-person support groups
- Regional Facebook support groups – Use the Facebook search bar using the same keywords mentioned above.
- If you’re seeking a Lyme specialist, check out the physician locators at ILADS.org and LymeDiseaseAssociation.org.
- If you have fibromyalgia, connect with others who live in your area at MyFibroTeam.com and ask for physician recommendations.
- Ask for a recommendation from your primary care doctor.
- Ask for a recommendation from family, friends and co-workers if they live with your same condition.
- (An extra not mentioned in the video) Regional/state disease associations – Google [your condition name] + association + [your city and/or state name] to see if there’s a regional association for your condition in your area. If there is, reach out to the association using their “contact us” page and ask if they can recommend physicians.
Step 2: Weed out physicians who are out of network
After I have a list of potential doctors from the sources above, I visit my health insurance’s website and use the physician finder to determine which doctors on my list are in network or out of network. If a doctor falls out of network, then I cross them off of my list because staying in network saves money!
However, if you have Lyme disease, you can likely skip this step entirely since most Lyme specialists do not take health insurance so you’ll be paying out of pocket anyway.
Step 3: Read online reviews
Now that you’ve whittled down your list to those who accept your insurance, go to Google or your favorite search engine and type in each doctor’s name plus the word “reviews.”
Read the reviews of each doctor. Most every doctor will have at least one or two negative reviews. That’s normal! What you’re looking for are doctors who have an overall pattern of positivity in their reviews. I generally keep the doctors who have at least 80-90% good reviews on my list and get rid of the ones who fall below that threshold.
Step 4: Make an appointment
I didn’t mention it in the video, but at this point, I often find it helpful to visit each physician’s website to read up on their bio, practice philosophy, published research, etc. Reviewing credentials sometimes can give one doctor an edge over others on your list!
At this point, your “potential” list should be pretty short. These are the doctors that I call to inquire about making an appointment.
Now, it’s your turn! Do you have any tips or advice for finding a good physician? Share in the comments below!