- Are you taking new patients? This seems like an obvious question, but many prospective patients forget to ask this up front, get very interested in a particular gynecologist and then find there are no openings available.
- Do you take my form of insurance coverage? Do you submit directly or will I have to pay you and file for reimbursement?
- If you don’t have insurance coverage, ask about fees and how they are to be paid. For example, will you be expected to pay at the time of the visit or will you be billed?
- Which hospitals are you affiliated with? If this Ob-Gyn does not have admitting privileges to any hospitals ask why. Also ask how hospitalizations are handled.
- Do you have any sub-specialty training?
- Ask whether the Ob-gyn has any special training or experience managing any complicated medical, obstetric or gynecologic conditions you may have (such as diabetes, endometriosis, infertility, etc.).
- Do you agree to an informational interview/introductory visit by prospective patients? What is the charge for such a visit? (insurance companies generally do not cover such a visit).
- Do you have a general information pamphlet you can send me and/or a biographical overview for the gynecologist? Once you’ve made an appointment with a new gynecologist, it is usually a good idea to ask the office to send you any new patient forms before your first appointment so you can make the most of your time there.
- How does the practice handle emergency (or after hours) visits or phone calls?
- Does the practice have a doctor on call 24 hours a day or do they share call with other groups? If an answering service picks up calls after hours, how long is it usually before someone returns your call? If you phone the office, can you talk to a gynecologist or other health care provider immediately? Some physicians return all calls at a certain time each day, while others reserve a special line for messages or have nurses or physician assistants answer questions. The most important factor is not who answers the calls, but how quickly they are answered and whether you have access to emergency medical advice.
- Who covers for the doctor when s/he is unavailable?
- Ask whether other physicians or non-physicians (such as a nurse practitioner or physician assistant) will participate in your care. If so, ask whether this is considered optional.
- If you are nearing menopause: ask about the doctor’s approach to menopause and hormone replacement therapy.
- Does the gynecologist (or another affiliated health care provider) answer e-mail questions?
- Does the gynecologist or the practice have a web-site to which you can get practice related or medical information?
- What are your views about recommending alternative, complementary or integrative medical approaches?
Important Questions to Ask Your Gynecologist During Your First Visit:
- Ask any of the questions listed above that you didn’t get answered before your first visit.
- Write down any questions you have about your condition before your visit and ask them during the visit.
- Are there any other questions I should have asked you?
- When should I schedule my next visit?
Important Questions to Ask Yourself After Your First Visit:
- What did I think of Dr. So-and-So?
- How was the overall experience of the visit?
- Was I treated with courtesy and respect by the physician and the office personnel?
- Do I feel like I’m in good hands?
- Did I feel comfortable asking all of my questions?
- Did I feel rushed?
- Did I feel heard and understood?
- Do I want to see this doctor again?
Your relationship with your gynecologist is one of the most intimate professional relationships you may have. While this relationship will take time to nurture, you should have a feeling even on the first visit that this is a person you will be able to trust with your most private or serious concerns.
There is no “right way” to choose a gynecologist. As with most relationships, sometimes luck is the most important success factor. However you make your choice, remember that you’re not committed to that choice for life! As your relationship with your gynecologist progresses, if there are needs or factors that change-including your level of satisfaction-discuss this with your physician. As with any relationship, effective communication can make all the difference.