So this is what I feel like sometimes when I come across something complex that has many possible explanations- as if I’m standing in front of a library with no place to start. As I’m new here, I’ll intro that this is a blog about health. Seeing as though there are so many complicated issues in healthcare, I feel this is an appropriate way to start the things I’ll discuss here. Look! It’s so super accurate because there are TONS of books about health/healthcare/doctors/insurance/younameanythingrelated! Sounds like a more or less accurate comparison to how it feels to search for a new primary care physician (PCP, for short). I recently moved to a new town (sort of, I graduated from a university and stayed in town instead of moving back home) and found myself in need of a new PCP because 2 hours is too far to drive for an appointment. I wasn’t heartbroken over being too far from the previous one, I liked her, but she held the opinion that in order for me to get a birth control prescription every year, I needed to have an up to date pap smear- EVERY YEAR.
While it sounds like this recommendation was made in my best interest, pap tests are moderately invasive, rather uncomfortable procedures that are actually not necessary or recommended for a yearly basis. According to the American Cancer Society, for women 21-29, pap tests are recommended for every THREE years. The recommendation continues, to include that HPV testing should only be initiated for women in this age group after an abnormal result following a pap test. For the age group 30-65, the ACS recommends testing every 3 years or pap/HPV co-testing every 5 years. Check my facts! http://www.cancer.org/healthy/findcancerearly/cancerscreeningguidelines/american-cancer-society-guidelines-for-the-early-detection-of-cancer
Anecdote aside, I needed a new doctor. How do you go about finding one? –ask your friends? –search the internet? –pick a name out of a hat? I ended up just picking one that my insurance covered, which was hassle enough. Fortunately an app on my phone helped me find local providers that would be in-network, but I still had to call the ones that made the short-list so that I could make sure they were taking new patients. So many things to consider… For anyone looking for these apps, there are quite a few: BlueFinder (for Blue Cross/Blue Shield plans), Aetna Mobile, Kaiser Permanente, and MyHumana Mobile, just to name a few.
I just googled “how to find a new doctor,” and there are a lot of “ways to find one.” Websites with tips, articles, what have you, all for that purpose. This seems like a good way: http://www.ratemds.com/ — gives doctors ratings by patients, gives you the most highly rated in your area, and allows you to search by specialty, and for ones accepting new patients! Huzzah there is light at the end of the tunnel! Here’s an article that was pretty informative: http://www.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/02/14/ep.finding.dr.right/
So far, the new practice I’m using is great. I’ve heard they still ask patients to do yearly paps, but lording medication over someone in exchange doesn’t seem to be at play here. Nice thing is, if I go and walk-in, I can see any doctor in the practice that has a free time block because they rotate. Kind of handy for second opinions and the ease of seeing someone when it’s necessary. We’ll see, into the future, if I need to search for another one.