Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Finding a Great Pediatrician

Most people have traditionally found their doctors by word of mouth. The people that are most commonly sought out for their suggestions are friends and family members. Second on that list would be a current adult doctor, such as an internist or obstetrician, or the nurse of one of these doctors. Now, however, we are inundated with information in print, on television and radio, as well as the most favored media for new parents these days, the web and social media. One thing has not changed, no matter where you start; it is best to do your homework and then make your own choice.

Obviously, insurance coverage is one of the first steps to consider, then location and hours of service, if you can call or email for advice, if there are social media options, etc. The list can seem overwhelming, but undoubtedly, the most important is how you connect emotionally and philosophically with your doctor.

At Willow Creek Pediatrics, we offer a “meet the doctor” appointment. One of the benefits of this service to prospective families is that we do not charge for this visit. In the long run, it makes sense for us and for you to feel that whoever you choose is most likely to be a good fit.

The doctors at Willow Creek Pediatrics offer a shared partnership with the parents, and the patients when age appropriate, where parents have equally as important roles as do the doctors. We work as a team, not only are the doctors and parents part of this team, but so is everyone in our office. All parties concerned share in the effort of providing the best medical care we can for each of our patients. We encourage parent feedback to help us continually fine tune the process.

From the start of parents’ relationship with us, we try to empower the parents to be an active part of the medical process. We encourage simple, but powerful things, like trusting your intuition about your children. When you think there is something different about your baby or child, pay attention to that. We say that when a parent is concerned, we are concerned until we can find an answer. We will work together to determine if the concern is a serious problem or just a “new variation of normal” for your child that you had not seen before.

Finding a “Medical Home” is a fairly new concept, but we have considered ourselves the medical home for our patients long before the term came into vogue. Someone needs to be aware of all the medical conditions of any one patient and be aware of all of the doctors who are involved in caring for any one patient. We have always seen that as part of our job.

You must understand that there is never a dumb or stupid question or visit to our office. We respect parents as making their best effort for each of their children and all we ask is the same respect in return as we make our best effort for each of our patients.

Make a list of all of your questions or concerns ahead of your visits. Prioritize that list as we may not be able to cover all of your questions at the visit. We will follow up by email or phone if we run out of time in the visit. We will eventually answer all of your questions, as that is our job.

Speak up during the visit.  If you think we did not understand your concern, tell us. If you did not understand what we tried to explain to you, ask us to say it again in a different way. If we ask you to follow a certain treatment plan and you have concerns about being able to comply, say so and give us a chance to make it work better for you. We try our best to individualize every one of our visits for that patient, that day and we need your help to accomplish that goal.

As you seek parenting or medical information on your own, we can recommend books, web sites and local organizations or services. Check our web site or ask us to find out more. When you look at websites on the Internet, look for ones that end in “.edu” or “.org”.

Keep your appointments or cancel them in a timely manner, so as to show respect for the rest of our patients who are also trying to be seen.

Know your insurance coverage. That is a bigger request than most people realize. Insurance companies may have complicated rules and they are not necessarily “on your side”, but if you learn their system, you can maximize whatever services and help they do offer under your particular plan.

“Patient and Family Centered Care” is also a relatively new term to help describe an ideal medical style to seek in a doctor’s office. Hopefully you can see that style reflected in this description of the practice philosophy of Willow Creek Pediatrics. It is something we have believed in long before the term became popular.

No matter where you go or who you see, the doctors and staff of Willow Creek Pediatrics wish you and your children good health.

--Joe Jopling, M.D.

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