You should never pay for physician referral services.
Physician referral services provide people with peace of mind because they help people choose a doctor with knowledge, credibility and training. With so many doctors practicing in every city, town and state, choosing one can be overwhelming. People never know if they are seeing a reputable doctor with the skills required to serve their needs. While it is a good idea to obtain references from friends and co-workers, it is also important for people to do research through physician referral services and check background information to make sure doctors are all that they say they are. If there are any red flags, they will show up during the research phase and alert someone against choosing a certain physician.
Many hospitals and health systems have physician referral services as part of their operations. The referral specialists help patients find a doctor who accepts their insurance. They will also make an appointment for the patient. Patients can rest assured that these referral services are credible and working on their behalf. They are available by telephone or online. Physician referral services arranged through an established health care facility will guarantee that the doctors they refer meet standards of experience, training and commitment to excellence. They will also be backed by a variety of innovative services and technology.
Some states have their own physician referral services, such as New York State Physician Profile website, which is full of information about physicians registered to practice medicine in the state. In addition, groups like the Diabetes Society will link clients and members to local doctors who are experienced and specialize in treating diabetes.
HealthGrades is the consumer website of the country's leading heath care monitoring and ratings organization. According to Reuters, in a single month, 4 million people visited HealthGrades to research the cost and quality of doctors, physicians, nursing homes, hospitals and home health agencies. At the site, people can obtain information about a doctor's medical training, specialty, years in practice, residencies, malpractice judgments, cost information and comparisons to other physicians, as well as how to contact the doctor. People can also find quality reports about local hospitals, obtain lists of physicians by specialty and look through a database of more than 700,000 physicians nationwide.
There are other searchable physician referral services online such as FindaDoc.com, which gives people information about a doctor's training, skill and cost, as well as ratings by patients. The service requires account registration but is free. DoctorDirectory.com allows patients to search by specialty through a database of 600,000 physicians. Once the specialty is selected, the user must select a state and city in order to receive a list of available doctors.
Many state health departments monitor the activities and practices of local physicians. In New York, for example, the Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC) protects the public by investigating disciplinary issues involving doctors, specialist assistants and physician assistants. The public can register a complaint with the office, knowing the file will be kept confidential. Likewise, the Tennessee Department of Health offers a database for people to find healthcare and research healthcare options. They can also verify a physician's license, discover whether disciplinary action has been taken against the doctor and look through an abuse registry.
When looking for a quality doctor, people should go to the source, so to speak. The American Medical Association (AMA) promotes the art and science of medicine. The Association unites physicians nationwide to work on important health issues. As members, doctors have access to resources such as ethics information and legal issues. They also have opportunities to network and learn from others in their field of specialty. The American Medical Association has a DoctorFinder, which allows people to search by name and state or zip code. If the doctor is a member of the AMA, information about them will appear on the page.
With so many credible, free physician referral services available to the community, no one should pay to receive doctor referrals. All it takes is some biographical information to receive helpful information. There is certain information that must be provided by doctors to their state health departments. Thus, much of the information people want is public record. Avoid any website that charges people to read this free information.