Choosing the right health specialist
Private health insurance enables you to choose your medical specialist – here’s how to find the right one for you.
Health Agenda magazine
If you’re in need of a specialist, choose one that fits your schedule, price expectations, comfort levels and has a good reputation. These tips will help you make a smart decision.
A great online guide is healthshare.com.au, which allows you to search for relevant specialists near you. It also enables you or your GP to find specialists who partner with HCF, meaning you’ll be more informed about the costs involved.
Ask not who, but why
Ask why your GP or friend has recommended a specific specialist. Are they a specialist they see themselves, or work with, or are they someone they know personally? This can help you evaluate how helpful their recommendation is.
What’s their availability?
Getting in to see a specialist can often involve a long wait period. Find out when you’re able to make an appointment and ask to be put on any cancellation lists. If there’s a significant wait and your medical need is urgent, consider finding a specialist who may be able to see you sooner. Healthshare provides a Specialist Now service that can help you find specialist appointments faster, at no extra cost.
If you’re going to be seeing a specialist regularly for treatments or procedures, where they’re based is going to be important. Research the location of your specialist’s practice as well as which hospitals they work with, and if they’re public or private.
Will you need help travelling to see the specialist for treatment? Is public transport available? Is free or cheap parking available nearby? It pays to think about these factors. If you have hospital cover, seeing the doctor in a private hospital may mean you’ll be able to have any procedures sooner.
Consider your individual needs
It’s essential that you feel comfortable communicating with your doctor. Do you work well with a doctor who’s time-efficient or do you prefer one who carefully answers all of your questions if you’re feeling anxious? Would you prefer a male or female specialist, or someone who may speak a second language? Not all doctors are the right fit for every patient and compatibility is important to fostering a positive doctor–patient relationship.
Can you use your referral on any specialist?
A referral can be transferred to any specialist you choose, as long as they’re in the same medical field. Alternatively you can ask your GP to write an ‘open referral’ where they don’t specify a particular specialist.
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