Is Your Healthcare Provider Good Enough for You?

group of medical professionals

Medically reviewed in March 2022

You know the old saying, "Physician, heal thyself." It's true. According to a recent study, how well your healthcare provider (HCP) takes care of their own health is important to your care. When it comes to finding a good HCP, look for one who's in decent physical shape—especially if you want to lose weight.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore polled 500 primary-care physicians and found that HCPs with "normal" body mass indexes (BMIs) were more likely than those with higher BMIs to diagnose overweight patients as obese and much likelier to advise them on diet and exercise. Normal-weight HCPs also reported greater success when it came to helping patients lose weight.

Still, a healthy weight is just one hallmark of a good HCP. Here are some tips to gauge whether your physician is right for you, or if it's time to find a new one.

Use social media. Employers check out prospective employees on social media all the time. You can do the same for your HCP. Look him or her up on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Check for healthy activities and an interest in health topics. Does he or she tweet about the latest health headlines, or post healthy recipes online?

Interview the front-office staff. They can tell you a lot about the provider—everything from where they did their residency and currently has hospital privileges to how long they have been board-certified (should be at least 3 years). Only choose someone board-certified with admitting privileges at a major medical center, experts advise.

Check credentials. Your HCP should be listed in a least a couple of physician databases, such as the American Medical Association's DoctorFinder or the American Board of Medical Specialties.

Does the doctor treat other patients like you? Ask the office manager what types of patients the provider typically sees. Listen for descriptions of people who are your age and/or have similar health concerns.

How's their bedside manner? Do they take time to listen to you? Do you feel relaxed, not rushed? Are your questions answered in terms you can understand?

Does your provider ask you the right questions? If they don't ask about alcohol, tobacco, physical activity, diet or stress, consider that a red flag. If the provider does ask about these, you know he or she advocates a healthy lifestyle.

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