By: Cassie at ehealthinformer.com
Synopsis: Finding the right healthcare provider for you isn’t always easy, especially if they aren’t in the mainstream. This article provides tips and strategies for people looking to find a healthcare provider that will meet their specific needs.
The term “alternative healthcare,” sometimes lumped into CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine) isn’t always associated with good things in the general populace. The phrase all on its own lends itself to sounding very much second class.
Yet alternative healthcare is anything but; many practitioners are utilizing the latest treatments that—for reasons of funding or sometimes more sinister political agendas —simply don’t have enough studies yet done to fully back the care as “mainstream.”
Finding those expert caregivers isn’t always easy. Doctors aren’t like restaurants; it can be difficult to base your decisions on their online reviews because every patient’s circumstances are unique.
Luckily, there are a few tricks to finding good healthcare.
- Determine the Type of Care You Need
Before you seek care, you need to figure out what you actually need care for. Different specialties handle treatments that may be specific to your particular needs. For instance, a Chiropractor deals with the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system.
Functional medicine doctors handle many traditional complaints with minimal use of drugs and surgery and are more open to alternative treatments. Chinese medicine has also proven effective for numerous problems, from allergy elimination to pain relief. Physical therapists can help with recovery from injuries.
If you aren’t sure what the best type of doctor is, consider visiting major websites. For instance, the IAOMT.org website is a good place to visit if you need dental care that goes beyond what your regular dentist may offer. FunctionalMedicine.org helps you locate a variety of practitioners based on their field of expertise.
Worst case scenario, you may be in for one “wasted” trip to one of these doctors to determine who is best to visit.
The type of doctor you need to see may not live nearby; some patients travel hundreds of miles to see a specialist that can deal with their condition. My own doctor drives nearly two hours to see a chiropractor that can address his specific condition (there are other chiropractors in the area, but none with the technique he needs).
This is especially true if you live in a more rural area, as some smaller towns may only have a small handful of traditional doctors and few if any alternatives. You can get good results by searching online by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to alter your IP address.
You might consider this strategy because local results tend to be more thorough and exact while doing searches about a distant area give broader and less helpful results. A VPN is just an app that lets you connect to remote servers found in other locations; for instance, you could access a server in Los Angeles even if you live in Nevada and get results local to LA.
Obviously, local docs are preferable, but that’s not always good enough.
- Seek Referrals
Another great way to find doctors that can help is by seeking referrals. This can be done directly through your current doctor or by seeking out patients that have similar problems. Those that experience good results tend to want to spread their success by recommending good doctors.
One place to find concentrated reviews for specific doctors and practices is on Facebook. In many cases, there are support groups that have formed to discuss dealing with varying diagnoses and diseases.
These Facebook groups usually have members that are seeing physicians or have already been to physicians and want to share their knowledge. In some cases, Facebook groups are even run by practitioners that hope to spread awareness of the treatments they have available.
Healthgrades.com is nice for reviews as well, but you should always be cautious of reviews that you can’t discuss with the reviewer.
- Check Magazine Directories
Nationwide, you can access health directories to look for doctors available in your area. One of the more well-known sources is a magazine called Natural Awakenings. They publish listings of doctors practicing alternative medicine; you’ll find them available for free at grocery stores and some newsstands.
These types of magazines are also a great place to read about the latest advances in treatment and about different types of care being offered. While the publishing standards aren’t quite as high as a scientific journal such as The Lancet, they serve as a good starting point, particularly for treatments that don’t lend well to randomized controlled studies.
- Go to Expos
Serving as both an advertising opportunity for businesses and as an educational tool for patients, natural health expos held across the country are a great place to meet with doctors and staff face to face without having to actually pay for an office visit.
These conventions are perfect for viewing a variety of different professions and seeing what each has to offer. You’ll be given dozens of pamphlets; some will offer free samples of products, while others will actually demonstrate what it is they do.
You can use these opportunities to ask specific health questions to “interview” each doctor to see if they’re the right fit for your needs. It’s also a good place to shop around for different prices because many alternative treatments aren’t covered by insurance (or the offices themselves are cash practices and don’t take insurance at all).
6. Taking Control of Your Health
When visits to your doctor let you down or you’re just looking for better alternatives, you’re in for a bit of work. The process for finding a truly appropriate doctor for your condition(s) may be tedious and sometimes even expensive.
Yet the results are certainly worth the time and money. When you’ve put the time in to find that doctor that fits just right, the results will speak for themselves. Having a good healthcare practitioner to serve as a pillar of support in your life can truly turn around an otherwise dark situation.
And for those that already feel healthy, remember that prevention is the best medicine. Seeking a doctor that believes in maintaining maximum healthy function is a great way to avoid chronic diseases later in life.
Will you be at the helm of your health? Tell us what great healthcare means to you and how you intend to get it.
About the Author: Cassie is a health enthusiast and technology writer. From her own experiences, she has learned a multitude of ways to efficiently locate doctors to treat conditions in ways that might otherwise be foreign to her primary care doctor.