One of our many responsibilities as parents is keeping our kids healthy. And as mothers, it seems we make the majority of doctor appointments and are usually the ones who take them, too.
However, moving into a new area can be a challenge. When we moved back to Oklahoma in 2005, we had to choose a pediatrician rather quickly. Normally I like to do an interview or at the very least a “meet the doctor” kind of appointment. However, since my daughter was sick, we went to a pediatrician that family recommended. We were less than pleased. The doctor had terrible rapport with my daughter. She ignored her and asked me about her symptoms and when she did talk to her, she talked to her like a baby. She dismissed any concerns I had and always seemed to be in a hurry. Continuity of care was poor as we were shuffled around to other doctors in the practice. There was even one visit where my daughter was scheduled for a well visit the week she got an ear infection. The pediatrician refused to do the well visit and made us come back in two days for it. After this visit, I began to look for a new pediatrician.
Typically, when you are looking for a pediatrician you go through a checklist: Do they have office hours that will work for you? Is the office clean? Is the doctor a member of a group or practicing on his own? Is the staff friendly and knowledgeable? Is the pediatrician open to your observations and thoughts as a parent? Are you able to contact the pediatrician after hours?
That last one was a big deal to us and I was surprised to find when I had my first child that it is unusual to be able to contact a pediatrician after hours. I was either referred to a nurse line or to an Urgent Care. When I started looking for a new pediatrician before the birth of our second child, I wanted someone who was old school but wasn’t afraid of technology. So when pumping my friends for information about their doctors I always asked them three things:
- If they were able to contact their pediatrician after hours and how.
- If their pediatrician had a website. If they do, you can explore it and see how in depth it is.
- What positive and negative experiences they had had with their pediatrician.
A pediatrician’s website is typically a good indication of how tech savvy the office and doctor are. We have all seen mediocre to bad sites that are more a waste of time than beneficial. A pediatrician with a good website allows you to register as a patient, contact the office, and explore basic medical information. If it is a really good site, you can log in securely to see your current prescriptions and request refills, view well visit data, see immunization records, and make appointments.
Turns out several of my co-workers went to the same pediatrician and after looking at his website, we made the switch. Our pediatrician is tech savvy and keeps his patients up to date on things he is seeing in the office and/or articles he has read via Twitter, Facebook, and his own blog. Not only that, but we have access to him 24/7 via his cell and e-mail. How many pediatricians do you know who still do that? Our old one sure didn’t. He also has great rapport with both my kids, listens to our concerns, and most importantly, he takes his time! What a novel concept in the field of medicine.
All of this may sound too good to be true–but wait, there is more. Our pediatrician recently started doing home visits. Seriously. Check out the interview he did for our local TV station: Tulsa Doctor Trades Office For House Calls
He came to our house for our son’s two month check up, ready with shots and his nurse in tow. They brought a scale and all the typical paraphernalia with them. The examination and shots were administered in the comfort of our living room and our son was over the shock in less than a minute. Throughout the appointment, our doctor used an iPad to enter all the data about the visit and to update our little ones prescription. After the visit, we said goodbye and our little guy went down for a nap.
My only regret is that we didn’t switch pediatricians sooner. So the moral of the story is: if you are unhappy with your child’s doctor, badger your friends and hit Google to find a new one. It may be one of the best things you can do for the health of your children and your own piece of mind.