Being responsible with your money isn’t just about savings accounts and higher salaries—it’s also about thinking ahead. Going to the doctor for regular checkups will almost certainly save you money in the long run (to say nothing about the physical and emotional savings).
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, the nation would save $67 billion if every American used a primary care physician.
But…Going To The Doctor Requires Actually Having A Doctor.
In an ideal world, you’d even like your doctor. We still find that referrals from a friend, family member, or coworker are best when looking for a physician we’ll like. Sometimes, we ask other doctors we respect for their referrals, since they’re likely to suggest other smart, competent colleagues.
If All Else Fails, The Internet Can Save You.
First, a disclaimer: Reviews on doctor rating sites can sometimes be really bombastic. Nearly every doctor will anger a patient at some point by doing something like denying a prescription she requests, and the most disgruntled tend to be the ones who submit ratings. Jeremiah Frank, M.D., who has a private family practice in Massachusetts, says: “Several of my friends and colleagues, whom I consider to be excellent doctors, have surprisingly vitriolic reviews about them.” All the same, the newfangled ways of the internet can be a great resource—as long as you take reviews with a grain of salt.
There are tons of ratings sites out there, so we surveyed the most popular of them to figure out which seem worth our time. Strengths and weaknesses of each site will vary by the kind of search you perform, but we looked up three different docs on each, all with different specialties and in different urban/small town settings. Here’s what we found:
Far and away, our favorite was Vitals.com because it’s easy to use, searchable along lots of different, useful guidelines, has more reviews than many of the other sites, and those reviews are generally good quality. We also liked ZocDoc because it’s pioneering an OpenTable-like way to make appointments online, but we found it lacking in terms of the doctors it serves and the reviews it houses. We still have a sweet spot for Yelp, so we’re staying tuned and hoping that it becomes a more reputable source for doctors in the future.
Pay It Forward.
Think of every time you’ve wished for a good medical recommendation, and prevent someone else from feeling the same way by writing reviews (positive or negative) of your doctors. Consider it community service.